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Right-handed world
Through the ages, writing has been shaped by the right hand, and what it does best. Some movements it makes easily, others not at all. Unfortunately, the writing movements that are easiest for the right hand are very difficult for the left.

Left-handedness has long been suppressed and punished. It hasn’t worked. Instead, we need to help left-handed children in a right-handed world.

Of all handwriting movements, this is the most difficult. The thumb, index finger, and middle finger bend together. And for a six-year old, it is a challenge. In the italic lower case, you’ll find it in the letters k s and x.

Left-handed writing is not ordinary writing, with the left hand holding the pen. The right hand makes the stems with easy waving movements of the wrist and the fingers. And there the left hand is already at a disadvantage.

This shows the left hand mirroring the position of the right. It has to make all the downstrokes by pulling. This is the most difficult movement of all: the thumb, index finger, and middle finger bending together.

No solution
The pen should never be above the line of writing.

A hooked wrist allows the left hand to imitate the writing movements of the right hand. This has caused the worst writing cramp I have seen. Put a stop to this. There are better ways.

First of all, find the lefties
About thirteen per cent of children are left-handed. That’s three in an average class. They’ll need your help. To help you find them, here are four tests. Children like them.

Test 1
Punch a hole in a piece of paper. Which hand holds the pen?

Test 2
Stretch your arm, and look at your hand through the hole in the paper. Which eye do you use?

Test 3
Crumple up the paper. Toss it in the air, and catch it a few times. Which hand does the catching?

Test 4
Make a long running jump. Which foot goes first?

When you know which of your pupils are left-handed, tell their parents. They may not know. And ask them to buy a pair of left-handed scissors.

A child may catch and punch with his right hand, but use his left eye to look through a hole (or the other way around). He may need an eye test. And some children prefer the left foot and the right hand. Watch them: they may need help if they become left-handed later.

Different pen hold
The left-handed pen hold should not be a mirror-image of a right-handed pen hold. In the left hand, the pen should be at less of an angle to the paper and be gripped higher on the barrel.

Right-handed penhold

Left-handed penhold

When a left-handed writer looks at the pen in his hand, he should see it nearly sideways. The right-hander sees it almost end-on.

Paper position
The left hand shouldn’t have to pull every stem with the difficult movement of thumb, index finger and middle finger. To avoid this, we’ll slant the paper to the right, and the writing to the left.

Right-handed chilren should put the paper directly in front of them and hold it in place with the left hand.

Left-handed children should learn to put the paper at an angle and to the left.

Writing angle
Letters that slant to the right are suitable for the right hand.

The model for the right hand is slants a little to the right.

Left-handed writing should be upright, even slightly backslanted.

Slanted writing suits the right hand. With upright or backslanted writing, the stems can be made with the natural swing of the left wrist and the fingers.

The ruler method
The hand of a left-handed writer should be just below the baseline. Then it doesn’t smudge the ink as it follows the writing from left to right.

Here’s how you use a ruler to keep the left hand below the line of writing.

Lay down a ruler (a pencil will do just as well) on the baseline. The hand should be below it, and the pen nib above it. Then take the ruler away and begin writing.

You’ll probably need to repeat this a few times. But it won’t be long until the hand will find the right place on its own.

A high seat is often useful to left-handed writers. Some like putting a pad on their chairs.

In most classrooms, the windows are on the left. With the light from the left, the pen of a left-handed child can cast a shadow on the writing. A change in seating can help.

A left-handed child needs room on the desk for the left arm. When two children sit side by side, the left-handed should be on the left and right-handed on the right.

Some lefthanders detest backslanted writing and the paper turned to the right. They call it a straitjacket, and they have a point. There’s another way.

Turning the paper around solves a couple of problems. You can write with movements that are natural to your wrist and fingers. Your hand won’t smudge the ink. Many left-handed calligraphers like this approach, especially for the thicks and thins of a broad-edge pen.

There’s a disadvantage, too. You look at the letters standing on their heads. You also have to turn the model upside-down. For some children, this can be difficult. But it’s worth trying.