forcing a leftie to write with her right hand

I have a girl in my class whose parents are from an Asian country (although I’m not really sure if Dad is still in the picture).  Her mother, who has limited English, brings her to class each morning and stands over her as she signs in, making her use her right hand.  This makes it slow going for the girl.   The rest of the morning, she uses her left hand.

I said something to Mom about how it is fine for her daughter to use her left hand, and Mom said firmly, “I don’t like it.”

Should I do anything else?  Is there definitive research that says this may harm her child?  Or should I respect what might be a cultural thing and leave it alone?


8 thoughts on “forcing a leftie to write with her right hand

  1. I’m a leftie and I believe being forced to write and draw with my right hand would be a serious impingement on my expressing myself– like being forced to talk in a funny voice all the time. But I also think you can have a lefties-are-okay policy in school and still ask the mom about her culture, make it an exchange of information so everyone knows everyone else’s position. Maybe you can ask that writing and drawing be left-handed even if eating, say, is right-handed at home. (Disclaimer: I’m not a teacher and I do realize this hypothetical conversation will not be easy with language and time constraints!)

  2. My uncle was forced to use his right hand as a child when he was clearly left handed. He suffered seizures because of the trauma of changing a natural function of his body. Maybe do some research and try to explain how this can harm the child.

  3. has information on research by Barbara Sattler. They summarize the research because her work is in German. I find this topic interesting because my husband seems to be truly ambidextrous. He use to confuse his students by writing half a sentence across the board with his left hand and half with his right. However, he’s practically illegible with both hands.

  4. change your “sign in” procedure (have the children find their name and move it from a “home” board to a “school” board- no physical handwriting. Then do writing activities later in the day. This avoids the battle that may occur because of differences in opinion. Mom can hold on to what she believes (you’re not going to change her, no matter what research you bring in) and you can continue to work with the child using the hand that she prefers. As you get to know the parent better, show her examples of the child’s writing- perhaps you can persuad her that her child will have more success using her natural preference as the chlld becomes more confident in her writing ability. It’s not going to be easy and it’s going to take time though! (I wouldn’t want to start out the day with that kind of battle each morning! Just my opinion)

    • I like your out-of-the-box thinking, Pam, but will stick with my sign-in. For one thing, my program requires it. I find that it works really well in getting the kids to learn how to sign their names quickly (already, after three weeks, several kids who couldn’t write their names can do it now). And I wouldn’t dream of having battles with mom each morning. I’m still mulling over my options. I think that the parent conference next month will be the time to talk about it. Thanks for weighing in!

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