Living with a little Lefty in a ‘right-handed’ world can be very confusing. Whilst many adults have learnt to adapt and use – in some cases very clumsily! – their right hands for most tasks, some children can struggle as they learn ‘right-handed’ tasks from a left-handed perspective.
In this day and age where we emphasise that differences between people must be respected and where discriminations are not acceptable, why is it still so difficult to be left-handed?
Let’s look at the very simple things in the home.
Start with your front door, the handle is usually on the right. Turn the knob, it will turn in a clockwise direction – not an easy movement for a left-hander.
Open the window, the latch is on the right.
Let’s move to the kitchen. Hold the kettle in your left-hand and watch the level as you fill it from the tap. Most times you won’t be able to – the level marker is on the other side of the kettle.
Try to open a tin with the tin opener in your left hand, you will have to completely twist your hand around if you try to use a right-handed tin opener.
Even your bread knife has the serrated edge on the left of the knife – suitable for right-handed use. Look at the knobs on the microwave, oven, dishwasher – they all move in a clockwise direction.
Actions like tying shoelaces, closing a button or tying a belt can be more difficult for a little lefty – they will do things upside down or ‘roundabout’ to complete the job!
Move to the study – the drawers to your desk are likely to be on the right. The mouse on the computer is normally configured for right-handed use, the number pad on a pc is on the right. (Although there is some belief that the designer of the typewriter was left-handed as all the common keys are on the left of the keyboard!) Even the task buttons on a calculator are on the right. Your ruler and pencil sharpener are also likely to be for the right-hander.
We could take a walk around the garden and use the lawnmower or we could even do some DIY and use the screwdriver or drill but I think you might have realised how challenging this world can be as your little lefty grows up!
While on average, 10% of the population is left-handed, research by Stanley Coren, author of The Left-Hander Syndrome found that approximately 1% of 80 year olds are left-handed, but up to 15% of 10 year olds!
We know that the numbers of left-handed children are increasing, so much lobbying needs to be done to make sure that the little lefty is accommodated in the home and classroom too. No longer is it just a right-handed world. We need to understand the needs of the left-handed child and be aware of the differences.
We need to make changes to accommodate left-handedness in the home and ensure our teachers know the best way to teach the left-handed scholar. We need to make sure that equipment, schoolwork and the home is suitable and safe for left-handed use. So look at things from your little lefty’s perspective.
You never know, that little lefty who might seem very clumsy to you, could end up being one of the many sports professionals, business or world leaders that are left-handed!
Left-hand Learning is presently conducting national research into left-handedness in South Africa as well as the cultural implications. If you are a parent or teacher of a left-handed child between the ages of 3 and 7 years, please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
Tel: 072 300 7066,