Posted by: ad65shorty | March 6, 2010

A right-handed mother with a left-handed child

I have a challenge in my life: my son’s dominant hand is different than mine (and everyone else’s in our family). He is left-handed! It has been a challenge teaching him how to hold his pencil correctly, how to cut, and even how to tie his shoes (didn’t know they do it differently). I wanted to share a couple of tricks I have learned through the last couple of years.

Holding a pencil:

I had an occupational therapist show this one to me back in my teaching days (you can also do this with a right-handed child). She said that using a small pencil, like a golf pencil, is a great way to teach correct hand formation for any child. The importance of correct hand position makes a huge difference in the future of their writing. I know I don’t hold my pencil correctly and my hand easily gets tired.

Anyway, put the pencil on the table, like this:

Have your child place their first two fingers on one side of the pencil and their thumb on the other. Make sure they hold near the bottom (my son’s hand should be lower):

Flip the pencil back so it rests on their hand (it should rest all the way back, in the crook; we didn’t quite get it there):

There you go!

Here is a song I use for helping children remember the correct way to hold their pencils.

Cutting with scissors:

This one is hard to explain, especially to tiny children. So, what I did was place my hand over his, like this (his wrist should be straight, but it’s hard to do it and take pictures at the same time!):

Worked for us, and now he knows!

Shoe tying:

This is a skill we are currently working on and is HARD!! Many left-handed people tie their shoes like their right-handed counterparts because that is how they were taught. But technically, they do it opposite.

So, to teach your child, sit in front of them instead of next to them and have them mirror what you do!

I also made this for my son to practice with (it’s from Making Learning Fun):

Any tricks you’ve learned that you could share with us?



  1. Thanks for the tips. Aidan still hasn’t absolutely chosen a dominant hand (still switches in the middle of writing his name even) but I think he will end up being a lefty. 🙂

  2. Thanks for the tips – great even for people with right handed mum and right handed child. My mum was left-handed and my sister and I both right-handed, she had trouble teaching us things (I can remember learning to sew …). Today it makes me a bit ambidextrous because I do some things the left-handed way.

  3. my little guy hasn’t decided either, but i do think he might be a lefty. i try to sit across from him when doing things. and, i also heard from a teacher friend overseas that you can write things, like a list of numbers, vertically rather than horizontally and that is supposed to make more sense for a lefty.

  4. Dana,

    Interesting! Thanx for the info! I’ll have to try that and see.

  5. I’ve been researching this too. Two other points for pencil hold that I’ve discovered:
    Lefties should hold their pencil about an inch back from the lead so they can see what they are doing.
    There paper should be on a 60 degree angle so the top of the page is pointing to the right so they can move their arm fluidly rather than twisting their wrist.

  6. Kristine,

    Thank you! Great info!!! I’ve always wondered how to have him hold his paper.

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