Thursday, January 10, 2013

Help for Left Handers, part 1

My son is 4 1/2.  He has been left handed since he was 1 1/2 years old.  I was surprised to see this because no one in my family or my husband's immediate family is left handed.  I realized very quickly that he wasn't switching back and forth.  If I gave something to him in his right hand, he switched it right over to his left.  He also held his pencil correctly at that early age of 1 1/2 years old.  It has been very interesting for me to watch.  

When he began to work on cutting, I bought two pairs of "left handed" scissors from Lakeshore Learning.  I just learned this week that they weren't true "left handed" scissors.  No wonder he had such a difficult time cutting straight lines.  This week I discovered that he had started to cut with his right hand to compensate (even though this is harder for him).  

I have known that I need to learn more about what it means to be left handed and how I can best help my son.  My search began with this book:  Your Left Handed Child by Lauren Milsom.  I am glad I read it for several reasons:
1) My son is not entirely the "leftie" that I thought he was.  He does have mixed dominance more than I knew (there's a series of 10-15 quick tasks to test in the book).
2) I needed to get some true lefty scissors.  Here are two that I found on Amazon:  

Westcott School Kumfy Grip Left Handed Kids Scissors, 5-Inch, Blunt

Westcott School Left Handed Kids Scissors, 5-Inch, Pointed, Colors Vary

The difference is that the blade controlled by the left handed thumb comes up, not down.  There are not truly "universal" scissors that work the same for both right handed and left handed children.  It's very interesting to me that my son is now having to undo his habits of how to compensate for the right handed scissors.  Still, I already see a drastic improvement in his ability to cut and follow a straight line.

3)  When instructing a left handed child how to do something, do it in front of it--like a mirror.  Then they will do it correctly.
4)  There are many ways that my son will need to learn to cope with a right handed world.  At times, accommodations will be possible, but if those accommodations aren't available Eli will have to learn how to make do.  This is my conclusion after reading the book. The author would not agree with this statement.  The biggest thing I can do is be aware of how we set up a workspace (or cooking space), what cooking utensils we use (serated knives need to be used back to forward instead of how righties do it in order to prevent a constant wedge cut), and make accommodations when I can (like getting the right scissors!).  What accommodations a parent makes for their child is really a personal, philosophical decision.  For me, I'm willing to buy new scissors, but not a new leftie ruler (at a hefty price!).  I am going to buy a blank ruler or piece of wood to be made into a homemade ruler to have on hand, though.  

5) Wireless computer mice are great because they can be switched sides for lefties easily.  And if a computer is permanently assigned to a leftie, then the buttons can also be switched.  But, because this is something is going to run up against all his life (and will require him to be flexible), I'm not going to switch the buttons on our mouse for him when he uses it.  I think that touch pads on lap tops are probably much easier for lefites to use than a large physical mouse for scrolling.  

I wonder sometimes if anyone who reads my reviews has ever wondered if we buy books (since books are sent to me for review).  Yes, we do.  Lots of them!  We are a book family.  I bought this book by Lauren Milsom.  But, I wouldn't recommend that you buy it.  Our local library system has 1 copy.  I'd check it out of a library and peruse it.  Look through the sections that might be helpful.  Honestly, I've shared here most of what I found to be helpful.  

I have more thoughts about being left handed which I'm going to post in a second part tomorrow and how it relates to how children learn.

1 comment:

Michelle said...

Both of my parents are lefties (though none of my grandparents, and neither my sister nor I are!) and just this past Christmas I was trying to cut something and was having a hard time. It took a good several seconds to figure out I was using lefty scissors! My Dad chuckled and said "how do you like it?!". I never realized how difficult it was to use the "wrong" scissors. So great of you to be so mindful and help Eli out in such a minor, yet thoughtful way :-)