Homeschooling Question

For those of you who have taught your children at home, or really anyone whom might have had experience in this area. I’ve started Aidan these past few weeks with some more consistent letter writing practice and have noticed that he is really wanting to be left-handed. I may be old school but I really would like to encourage him to be right-handed. So if you were in my shoes, how would you go about encouraging him to write with his right hand? He writes much better with his right hand, but will complain often that his left hand is the hand that “gets all the big stuff” or that his “right hand is dizzy.” :) I usually let him move to his left hand without making too big of a deal about it. Any thoughts? I’m not against him being left-handed but I think it would be easier for us if he was right-handed, (don’t get your feelings hurt, all you lefties:). Anyway, just an odd question from a new homeschooling mama, thought it might be a fun topic!

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16 Responses to Homeschooling Question

  1. Suzi Searles says:

    Jenni,

    I recently took a class at the Oregon Homeschool Convention. The Lady who spoke addressed the issue of children being able to use both hands to write. She said that if we let our children switch from one to the other they will probably have some sort of learning or discipline problem in their life. The best way to see what side of Aidan is dominant is to watch what hand he uses when he eats or writes and then watch what foot he uses when he kicks a ball. Whatever one he uses all the time, is his dominant one, therefore you don’t want to let him go back and forth. Hope this makes sense if not, please feel free to call or write me an e-mail.

    The new shelves are great! Are you still finding them as helpful as you thought? I’m praying for you that you will continue to stay healthy and that this delivery will be the best one you’ve had so far and of course for a healthy baby boy.

    Love in Christ,
    Suzi Searles

  2. The Auntie says:

    Ha! Aidan is so hilarious!! What is the “big stuff” (capital letters??) and what does he mean about getting “dizzy”? Sanford’s question/interpretations-is his hand getting tired, dizzy? Is he writing too much? Is he using a bigger pencil, for new writers?

    We liked Sue’s comments. Makes a lot of sense.
    Love you!

  3. Sarah says:

    You son’s body is already pre-programmed to be a lefty. He can be ambidextrous when it comes to sports but having a dominant hand to write with is so much better than switching to his right hand just to satisfy his parents. I went to school with a couple – he was left-handed and she was right-handed. They typically held hands with his right hand to her left hand. That way they were connected but could still have their free dominant hand to write with. That’s what they did when they signed their marriage license – holding hands while being able to sign their names – at the same time. Crayola makes triangular shaped crayons and pencils that help children hold them correctly. With hands are smaller, it helps to have a larger item to grasp. Once they reach 8 or 9, switching them to a standard size pencil (or crayons) is better for them. Little hands have big imaginations. Good luck.

  4. Jenni says:

    Suzi, thanks for the comment! I’m curious to know what she thought would cause behavioral problems with switching back and forth? Would you mind expounding on that? Yeah, I will have to pay closer attention to find out what hand is dominant for him. He tends to use both for most things, eating; he goes back and forth, but things like throwing a ball/frisbee, he uses his left. Not sure about kicking a ball, we’ll have to try that and see. And with writing, he doesn’t always start with his left hand, often he starts with his right. Not sure if it’s because he’s remembering to do it that way because I’ve told him to or what.

    About the shelves, we love them! I love having extra space in a drawer. The drawers aren’t crammed full of clothing so that I have to shove them in when I closed them. The tubs slide in and out very easily, and I can pull them all the way out to see what’s in their or to fill them up if I want. So yes, I do still love them! I need to get them labeled, but we are borrowing these ones and will be able to purchase our own in a few weeks, then I will label them so daddy and the kids can see what goes where :)

  5. Jenni says:

    Tam and San, I think what he means when he says that his left hand gets all the “big stuff” is that it feels comfortable to do things with his left hand, like he grabs stuff with his left hand and his right hand is free to grab the other “little” stuff? I’m not exactly sure, that’s just my estimation so far. About the dizzy right hand, yeah, I think that he just means it’s getting tired and he wants to give it a break and use his left hand. I do have one of those bigger pencils, I will have to have him try those and see if that helps. And if his hand gets “dizzy” maybe I will just have him stop instead of having him switch to the other hand :)

    Thanks Sarah for your comments, I will have to look into those triangular crayons and pencils. I was looking for school supplies, brings me back to when I was in grade school, last night at Wal-Mart and I wasn’t impressed. They were all out of glue sticks too! Maybe Michael’s would be a better place to look for school supplies for little guys, anybody have any tips on where to look for school supplies? Thanks again for your comments, I like what I’m reading so far :)

  6. sara says:

    Do you have a Mardels? I love that store and buy lots of great homeschooling items and regular school supplies items also.

  7. Sarah says:

    Please send me your mailing address via my work e-mail (I hope you still have that) and I will get some supplies headed your way. If I don’t hear from you by Tuesday or Wednesday of next week, I’ll send you an e-mail. Wal-Mart is pretty picked-over, but I have my sources for great stuff.

  8. Kim says:

    Hey Jenni,
    Well, Justice is my oldest, in third grade and he is a lefty. Definately left handed and he is ambidextrious when it comes to sports. Zach and I personally feel like we should just encourage our boys with whatever feels most natural… I guess it would never have even entered my mind to not let him use his left hand. He has excellent penmanship and his cursive and printing are both great! Just some food for thought… bless you as you start at on your homeschooling adventures!

  9. nanajudi says:

    I figured you’d get lots of comments on that. I think I have heard that left-handed people tend to be right-footed, so if he kicks with his right foot, it may not mean that he is right handed…don’t know where I heard that, and I may not have even heard right. :) Big help, huh?!!

  10. Liz says:

    Oh my gosh I am NOT leaving a comment here because I have really strong opinions on this. I am emailing you RIGHT now.

    Love, your left-handed, ambidextrous friend

    LIZ! :)

    So sorry I didn’t get this post sooner!

  11. Liz says:

    OH! I hadn’t read all the comments before but Nanajudi IS right!

    ~Love,
    A Left handed writer, right footed kicker! :)

  12. Jenni says:

    Sara, I’m pretty sure we don’t have a Mardels. :) Thanks though!

    Sarah, you are so sweet, I will email you later today. I’m pretty sure I still have your work address.

    Kim, that’s great. I think that as I’ve been reading people’s response, the real question I have is “how can I tell which hand is his strong hand?”. I know I don’t want to discourage him to be left-handed if that is the way he’s wired. So it will be fun to discover that with him. Just new territory for me :) Thanks for your thoughts!

    Mom, thanks! I figured it was too soon to know yet. Still have some watching to do.

    Liz, you’re cute. We all have our passions! I figured that I might get a few riled up lefties responding, that’s why I said, “don’t get your feelings hurt all you lefties” :) I admit that my motives behind encouraging him to be right-handed are purely for my own convenience, just because I’m right-handed. But the more I think about it, like I said before I think the true question is how to know which hand is dominant and when can you really tell? And then what do I do with that knowledge when I know, do I encourage him to stick with that hand or do I let him go back and forth? I know lots of people have different opinions on this, just curious what other’s thoughts are on this topic. But not to worry, I’m not going to exhaust the poor boy, nor will I force him to do something he’s not wired to do :) Thanks Liz, you’re a great friend, even if you ARE left-handed, right-footed ;)

  13. Kim says:

    Great blog post Jenni, it was wise of you to ask for people’s opinions, it can’t hurt right? Bless you friend!

  14. Carolyn says:

    Hi Jenni!

    My name is Carolyn, and I found your blog through a series of other blogs. I work as an occupational therapist in the school system (with kids who have difficulties with fine motor skills as well as other types of more involved disabilities) over here in HI. I spend a good portion of time consulting with teachers on how to develop and promote age-appropriate grasp on pencils and scissors for writing….so I thought I’d send you a few thoughts.

    First of all, I am right-handed (!),but from a fine motor ‘development’ perspective, I’d have to agree with those who commented to encourage going with your son’s natural dominance. Right handed people can have opposite side dominance with legs (e.g. left leg dominance) and vice versa (right kickers may be left dominant writers), so the legs may not be the most reliable indicator of hand dominance.

    ****If you go with what side he prefers and seems stronger with (which indicates the small muscles of that hand are better developed) his endurance and control with pencil/crayon/marker/scissors, etc. will be greater, he will have more success from the ‘get go’, and you will most likely have a FAR easier time getting him motivated for writing (which can be a prob w/ boys) AND preventing him from developing bad habits (kids usually want to please and can easily develop horrible habits in terms of pencil grasp if they are not ‘ready’ for printing but then they hold the pencil any way they can just to ‘get the job done’ for the teacher/parent).

    In terms of figuring out hand dominance, switching back and forth may indicate several things: that dominance is not fully established OR that the child has endurance problems (e.g. needs to continue to do various fine motor activities to develop the small muscles of the hand) OR that the child has difficulty crossing the center line of his body. Most kids ‘work out’ their own hand dominance by a certain age; it can be still developing for writing and cutting up to age 5 or 6. Typically, we recommend letting the child choose which hand for a certain activity (e.g. a printing or cutting task or a coloring page) but they must NOT switch during the task. (I say something like, ‘Oh, you chose your right hand this time. Great! Let’s let the right hand finish this job, you can choose the left for the next job.” If the kid needs a break, I just give him a couple of minutes, then back to the activity. The reason to not let them switch during the activity is to encourage them to ‘work through’ any issues of crossing the center line of the body or issues of endurance. Continually switching during one activity might be easier for the child, but usually winds up getting him more confused about which hand is ultimately more comfortable.

    Here is the other thing to look for: the ‘dominant’ hand is the one that usually throws the ball, holds the tool, turns the pages, holds the crayon, twists the lid off. *** The stabilizer or assistive hand is the one that holds the book or the container steady while the other is turning the page or unscrewing the cap. It hold the paper down while the dominant hand writes/draws/colors. The assistive hand ‘helps’ in general to hold and stabilize the object while the dominant hand actively manipulates some aspect of the object…. They work together in a ‘lead/assist’ pattern (this is what we call it in the occupational therapy world!!)….

    In GeNerAL: You can help increase his endurance by having him do small manipulative activities (hanging wash with clothespins, clipping together items with paperclips, using chip clips, putting pennies inside a bank with one hand, using a tweezer or kitchen tongs to pick up small objects, ete. etc.) The triangular crayons are a great tool. One of the things we recommend the most is to let kids work on a vertical surface (e.g. tape a paper to the wall or refrigerator, let them paint with water-only on the side of the house -ha!, use an upright easel or chalkboard, dry erase board mounted on the refrigerator, etc.). This position does absolute wonders for strengthening the shoulder/arm/wrist/hand segment which leads to things like establishing hand dominance, strength, endurance, and control MUCH more quickly…and it also usually promotes a typical 3-fingered grasp on the marker/crayon/pencil. There’s a reason that old time classrooms and kindergartens had so much upright easel and chalkboard time!!!

    Sorry for the novel; I just wanted to give you some of the same tips I’d give to a school system teacher starting out with these kinds of issues. I think you may be able to see my personal email, since you are the blog author; feel free to email me for clarification or anything…I am not an actual blogger myself (yet!) so I don’t have any other way to have you get in touch with me… Hope this was even a bit helpful.

    Blessings to you as you enter this new learning season!

  15. Jenni says:

    Wow, thanks so much Carolyn! That was extremely helpful. I will have to email you personally as well but wanted to add that I have noticed he really likes to use the easel we have but had no idea about how it helped with smaller muscle development! That is great, I will have to let him use that more often. Everyone has had such great imput, I’m glad I asked the question, this has been a great discussion.

    Well, I think my husband and I are going to go melt our brains and watch a movie. We’ve had a full Saturday, Farmer’s Market, errands, yard work and lots of family time. We’re going to have some icecream and veg on a movie :) Have a good weekend!

  16. Check out Facing the Giants when you can.

    Oh and my husband is left-handed, and he’s fine.

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