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Autor: anton 31 July 2010
Words: 3698 | Pages: 15
When Left is Right
By Carma Haley Shoemaker
One in every 10 people is left-handed, and males are one and a half times more likely to be left-handed then females, according to Lefthanders International. Medical researchers have looked long and hard for what causes people to be left- or right-handed. Their answer? The same reason why brown-eyed people have brown eyes: genes that manifest their trait one out of every 10 chances. With 90 percent of the population being right-handed, how can parents help their "lefty" learn to successfully navigate his or her world?
On the Other Hand
What do left-handed people do differently that distinguishes them from right-handed people so dramatically? According to Martha Pieper, co-author of "Smart Love" and columnist for the Chicago Parent, being left-handed means simply having a preference for using the left hand for a variety of tasks, including reaching, throwing, pointing and catching.
"Stating someone is left-handed also implies a preference for using the left foot for kicking, to begin walking, running and bicycling," says Pieper. "There are no hard and fast rules for determining which hand or foot the lefthander prefers to use for a particular task. Most will prefer to use the left hand or foot for delicate work. They may also have a dominant left eye, preferring to use the left eye for telescopes, camera sights and microscopes." Pieper says that, in general, being left-handed means having a dominant right side of the brain.
In past societies, there was no sympathy for left-handed persons. Lefthanders International shares stories of children forced to change their dominant hand in fear for their life, their safety and their acceptance. As left-handedness was seen as a curse, children caught using their left hand for reaching and grabbing were often scolded and forced to use their right hand in order to make it dominant. This was an enormous effort for both parent and child. It is stated that to accomplish the change in handedness, the left hand would be tied behind the child's back, down at their side or across their chest to make it unusable for normal activities, forcing the right hand to take its place.
Most tools, utensils, office equipment and dishes are made for the right-handed person. There are tools for left-handed people, but most must be special ordered from retailers who specialize in them. According to Pieper, this is just the beginning of the battle for a parent of a "lefty."
"The problem most left-handers encounter is that the world is configured for right-handed people," says Pieper. "And teaching a left-handed child can be a difficult task, especially if the parent is not left-handed. A child can become quite frustrated when attempting to imitate a parent or sibling who is not left-handed and may even give up on the task all together."
Learning to Teach a Lefty
What can a parent do? Pieper says it's easy -- learn to teach. "Parents who are right-handed often try to do things in the opposite of what they know when teaching their children," she says. "While the concept is good, this method is hard on both the parent and the child as it never seems to work how it should. In order to have the child see the hand movements in the proper direction, sit opposite the child rather than next to him or behind him. A left-handed child is just the mirror image of a right-handed one. So be your child's mirror."
Sue Shackles, a mother from Buckley, Wash., first noticed something different when her daughter, Sophie, was an infant. "It became more apparent as she got older -- she is left-handed," she says. "The biggest problem was when I tried to teach her to manipulate items. You can't sit next to a leftie as a right-handed mom and show them how to do something, because to them, it's Greek. Tying shoelaces was exceptionally difficult. The solution, which worked best for us, was to sit across from her, and have her copy my movements as though we were using mirror imagery. When I moved my left hand, she moved her right. You can utilize this for almost every problem -- how to hold a fork, or a pencil, etc."
Myths of Lefties
While there are many myths related to left-handed children, here are the most popular.
Lefties are More Apt for Creative Genius: A really interesting question is whether there is any connection between left-handed people and creative genius. As one of the most common myths of left-handed people, Pieper states coincidence rather then consequence.
"Some of history's most creative minds have been left-handed," says Pieper. "Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Ludwig van Beethoven, Benjamin Franklin, Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein were all left-handed according to history. But just as we can name all these wonderfully talented left-handers, we can also name just as many right-handers. There are no concrete facts to prove or disprove any relation between being left-handed and being exceptionally in any field. However, even if it isn't fact that left-handedness gives rise to creative genius, left-handed children and parents can take comfort to know that they are in good company."
Lefties are More Clumsy: As they are thought to be "out of the norm," left-handed children are often labeled as clumsy. But is it true clumsiness, or just a matter or having to adapt? "Left-handed children, when attempting to accommodate to an opposite world, appear awkward using tools that have right hand preference designed into them," says Pieper. "However, right-handers display even more awkwardness using left-handed tools than left-handers do using right-handed tools. This is probably because right-handers are less used to adapting. It's not a matter of being truly clumsy, but instead, it is that a child has not yet overcome or adapted to that right-hand based obstacle."
Lefthanders International has designated August 13 as International Left-handers Day. This August may be a great time to start celebrating your child's uniqueness, versatility and left-handedness. "I have always accepted what life has to offer and tried to teach my kids the same philosophy," says Karen Hawkins, an Internet professional and freelance writer from Bridgton, Maine. "I believe THE most important thing you can do for any child is to accept their limitations, while encouraging them to strive to be the best they can be."
"Being left-handed is not a curse, it is not a handicap and it is not a restraint," says Pieper. "But if the parent makes it a focal point of the child's development, it becomes all these things and more. A child is still a child, in need of guidance, love, understanding, instruction and modeling, regardless of which hand they choose to hold a spoon. Pay attention: Your 'lefty' could probably teach you something regarding adaptation."
Teaching Left-Handers to Write by M.K. Holder, Ph.D.
[pic] introduction | paper position | pencil grip | mirror writing | refererences | related considerations | resources
Teaching a child to write with his or her left hand is not just the opposite from teaching how to write right-handed. Languages that are written left-to-right, like English, are more difficult to write with the left hand -- a right-hander writes away from his body and pulls the pencil, while a left-hander must write toward his body and push the pencil.
If a left-handed child is only permitted to write with the left hand but not taught how to write, the child may develop a needlessly uncomfortable, inefficient, slow, messy way of writing that will be a lifelong hardship. Therefore, it is especially important for parents and teachers to understand how to teach left-handed children to write correctly.
The most important factors are: the position of the writing paper, the position of the arm and wrist, and the grip on the writing instrument.
The "hooked" style of writing that one often sees in left-handers (see Figure 1) results from lack of proper training -- this is not how a left-hander should write. Left-handers adopt this posture because they are trying to see what they are writing and not smear what they have just written with their hand, while maintaining a right-slant to their letters -- these problems are better overcome by paper positioning and pencil grip (with the understanding that a right-slant is not mandatory, that upright or left-slanted letters are acceptable) (REFS: Clark 1959:7; Szeligo et al. 2000).
Figure 1. "Hooked" writing
Position of Paper
For a left-handed child, the paper should be positioned left of the child's midline, and tilted so that the top right corner of the paper is closer to the child than the top left corner (see Figure 2). The paper is placed so that the child's hand is to the left of, and away from, the body at the start of the writing line, and ends the line with the hand closer and in front of the body or slightly to the left of midline. The angle that the paper is tilted will vary according to individual children -- the important thing for the child to remember is to keep the arm perpendicular to the bottom of the page or slate writing tablet (see Figure 2). The wrist should be straight (not bent). And the writing hand should be below the writing line.
Teach left-handed children to remember three things as they learn to write :
[pic]Grip the pencil ~ 2.5 cm (1 inch) to 3.8 cm (1.5 inches) from the point,
[pic]Tilt paper so that arm is at right-angle to bottom edge of paper / slate
(and the top right corner of page is toward writer),
[pic]Write with the hand below the writing line and the wrist straight.
Figure 2. Proper posture, paper position, and grip for left-handed writing
Because the act of writing involves the whole arm, tilting the paper affords a writer the most efficient and comfortable position for the wrist, elbow, and shoulder. Some teachers have found it helpful to let the left-handed child start writing, or practice writing, on a chalkboard mounted on the wall (or on the ground, using a stick in soft, smooth soil). This allows the child to move the entire arm freely, keep the wrist straight, and not worry about seeing or smudging the writing, making it easier for the child to concentrate on learning to form the figures (REFS: Gardner 1945; Clark 1959).
Pencil / Pen Grip
Left-handed writers need to grip the writing instrument far enough back from the point to be able to see what is being written, and also to not smear what has just been written. Teachers and researchers recommend the child grip the pencil around 2.5 cm (1 inch) to 3.8 cm (1.5 inches) from the point (REFS: Gardner 1945; Cole 1955; Clark 1959).
If the child tends to hold the pencil too close to the point, the teacher can make a mark on the pencil at the right distance, to remind the student where to grip the pencil. The wrist should be fairly straight, not bent sharply. A common problem for all young children learning to write is gripping the pencil too tightly, making writing tense and tiresome. Usually the child learns to relax his or her grip as writing develops, but teachers can remind students to hold the instrument gently. Frequent practice and letting the child write large letters, also helps children learn to relax their grip. The child will tend to naturally reduce the size of the writing as s/he attains better motor control (Clark 1959).
Mirror writing is writing left-to-write languages (like English) backwards AND also reversing the letters so that the writing only appears normal when held up to a mirror and the reflection viewed (see Figure 3).
Figure 3. Example of Mirror Writing
Some people are able to write quite easily and naturally this way (for instance, the Italian inventor and artist Leonardo da Vinci famously kept his notebooks in mirror script). If a left-handed child has a tendency to mirror write, the teacher can help him or her overcome this by making sure the child always begins writing on the left side of the page. This can be done by placing a mark on the left side of child's paper showing which side to start writing from. If the mirror-writing persists, the teacher can try other strategies to help the child establish the correct direction and orientation of the letters. For instance, the child can be instructed to slowly and carefully copy text from a correctly written page. If the child has trouble even copying text, the teacher can have the child trace over correctly written words (in either case, remember to mark the starting point on the left side).
How to Correct Bad Writing Habits
If a child has already started writing the wrong way, a parent or teacher may wish to re-educate the beginning writer. Cole (1955) reported good results re-training young children after a period of six weeks. To be successful, parents and teachers must agree on the process and work closely with the child. During the re-training period, the child should be excused from all regular classroom written work -- otherwise, s/he will revert back to the old style because, for the moment, it is faster than writing the right way. Explain to the child that you're going to show him or her how to write easier, and that it will take a few weeks to master. Demonstrate the proper grip, paper position, arm and wrist position, etc. Work closely with the child for short (10 minutes to start) but frequent (at least once a day) practice sessions. Remember that it is hard to break old habits and replace them with new ones, and that this will be a temporary strain for the child. Therefore, the child should do no writing other than the practice sessions for two or three weeks, or until s/he has become so comfortable with the new writing style that s/he uses this spontaneously. Be sure to give the child lots of encouragment and support during this difficult period.
Tips for Teaching a Left-handed Child
(based on 7 ratings)
by Sue Douglass Fliess
Topics: Growth and Motor Development, more...
Back to School Supplies, Self-Esteem Development
As soon as your child develops his motor skills, he'll be showing you his dominant hand. What should you do if it's his left one?
First of all, says Gina Landfair, Occupational Therapist at Chicago's Children's Memorial Hospital, don't force a round peg into a square hole. If you suspect your child's a lefty, don't attempt to transform him into a righty. "This just causes more problems later," Landfair says.
At around age 5, your child's dominant hand will be very apparent. In fact, at times parents can tell at as young as age 3 which side a child prefers. Suspect your child is a lefty but not 100% sure? Try these tests: Place a ball down on the floor and ask her to pick it up and throw it. Set a spoon alongside her yogurt and watch her pick it up and eat.
Once you're sure you have a lefty living under your roof, there are a few things to keep in mind. True, you'll raise your left-handed child the same way you would if he were right-handed. But you may face some small challenges you might not have thought about otherwise.
Probably the most significant area of concern for parents of left-handed children is writing. According to Landfair, lefties simply cannot write with a piece of paper positioned vertically. For school age children (kindergarten to first grade), parents can help significantly by teaching them to tilt their paper toward their right, she says. Just as important, make sure your child is grasping the pen properly. Lefties have a tendency to use a ‘hook' grasp so they can see what they are writing, but they should be encouraged to hold writing instruments the "right" way. Also, buy quick drying pens, as lefties tend to smear the ink as they're writing, because their hands skim over their recent work as they move on to the next section. When it's time to introduce your child to a computer, Landfair recommends investing in a left-handed mouse.
Moving from pen to pavement, be aware that learning to tie shoes can be more challenging for lefties. Sometimes it helps to tie your shoes in front of a mirror so your left-handed child can see how she should do it. Landfair suggests letting your child practice while the shoes are off first, then try tying with them on. (In her sessions, it usually takes a lefty longer to learn to tie shoes, so have patience).
Finally, take advantage of new fangled things. The industry has become savvy, bringing to market a slew of products made just for the lefties in our midst. From school essentials like left handed notebooks, scissors, and pens, to objects that just make life a little easier-- like can openers or sports equipment, there are plenty of products designed specifically for left-handed people. It's worth the money to ease your child's (and your) frustration.
According to Landfair, "The main thing to keep in mind when teaching either a right-handed or left-handed child, is a lot of repetition." Kids need to do things over and over to learn a skill.
The bottom line? Stop worrying about your lefty! True, he might not do things the exact same way as the other kids on the block. But that's not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, studies show that left-handed people tend to have higher IQs than right-handed people.
Even though a left-handed person crosses his T's from right to left or hangs his clothes in the closet opposite of how a right-handed person would, there's no reason to think he won't turn out just fine, or even be first in his class. He'll grow up just like any other child. He'll just do it from a slightly different angle.
Teaching Left-Handed Children
By Jennifer Lang, Parenting
Left or Right: How Toddlers Pick a Hand
3 ways you'll see your toddler trying to figure out which hand she likes to use most - Parenting.com
If your child's left-handed, she may need help now that she's old enough to learn how to write.
While most people naturally write from left to right, lefties do the opposite at first -- they move from right to left. The same goes for drawing circles: Righties do it counterclockwise and lefties clockwise, which is why they tend to reverse letters (like a, c, d, f, g, q, and s) that are made with a counterclockwise stroke.
To help her adjust:
Teach her to hold her pencil between her thumb and forefinger, resting on her middle finger, at a 45-degree angle -- except that it should point toward her left shoulder, not her right.
Buy her pencils, notebooks, and other supplies designed for lefties. Soft, molded pencil grips with an "L" marked where her thumb should go will teach her the right grip.
Slightly raise the left corner of the paper she's writing on to keep her wrist from curving, and her muscles from straining.
Help her orient herself from left to right by drawing a thick green (for "go") line down the left-hand side of her paper. Tell your child to move away from the green line to the right.
If your child is sitting in a group or next to a rightie, have her sit on the left, so she doesn't bump elbows with her neighbor.
Most lefties make smudges as their fist moves across the page. Let her know that's okay! What's important is that she gets the basics down.
How to Teach a Left-Handed Child to Write
By an eHow Contributing Writer
Article Rating: [pic][pic][pic][pic][pic](8 Ratings)
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We live in a right-handed world where lefties are forced to adapt or fall behind. Handwriting is no exception with teaching methods impeding left-handed learning. Fortunately, with practice, most lefties can learn to write just as well as their right-handed counterparts. Here are some tips on teaching left-handed writers.
[pic]Difficulty: Moderately Easy
1. Step 1
Learn about programs such as Handwriting Without Tears. This sensory-based program is designed for both right- and left-handed students and is an excellent system to help your child become a more consistent writer.
2. Step 2
Prepare for writing by placing the child's paper left of center to avoid crossing the midline. Position the paper so it is at a 45-degree angle (with the lower right corner of paper pointed at the midsection) or parallel with the child's left forearm.
3. Step 3
Get the proper grip by having the lefty hold his pencil in a tripod grasp (between thumb and first two fingers) with the eraser pointing at the left elbow. If your child cannot maintain such a grasp, look into grip aids that slide over the pencil.
4. Step 4
Spend 10 to 15 minutes a day practicing handwriting with your child checking for proper sizing, spacing and consistent formation of letters. In addition, teach proper positioning by keeping your child's wrist below the line of writing.
5. Step 5
Schedule an evaluation. Poor handwriting may be an indication that your child lacks basic fine motor skills needed for daily activities. An occupational therapy evaluation will test areas (muscle strength, visual perception and sensory integration) that may be limiting your child's handwriting performance.
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