Expert points finger over treatment of left-handers

14th May 2010 at 01:00
Teachers often mistake young children's writing problems for dyslexia

Left-handed children struggle from an early age because teachers are not trained to identify which side of a pupil's brain dominates, according to an expert.

More than one in ten children faces an "enormous hurdle" when they start school because they are left-handed, claims the author of a new book on the subject.

Children are often incorrectly diagnosed with dyslexia because of their difficulties with writing, says Lauren Milsom in Your Left-Handed Child.

The author, who is calling for action to instruct teachers on the problems facing young left-handers, said: "More often than not, teachers do not know what to look for.

"A child may struggle with tying their shoelaces or using scissors or writing because they are left-handed. But they will not know they are left-handed, so once they see their friends doing it and that they can't, they will give up more quickly and become more frustrated."

Ms Milsom added: "A whole range of problems could be solved if teachers were simply told to ask their pupils which they felt more comfortable with whenever they see a child struggling with something, be it a pen or a mouse."

Children usually establish their dominant side by the age of five, she says, but it can take some until the age of six or seven before it is clear whether they are left or right-handed.

The problem can continue throughout their school career, particularly in subjects such as design and technology in which power tools are designed for right-handed people.

Ms Milsom will be speaking at Malvern College in Worcestershire next Tuesday at a conference entitled Left-handedness in Education. The event will also examine the effects of left-handedness on society as a whole.

Malvern headmaster Antony Clark, said some experts claim that left-handed people show more creativity than right-handers because of the struggles they face at school.

"Some things are more difficult for left-handed people," he said. "Writing is an obvious example. Left-handers may struggle to write as they have to push the pen across the page, so they might write less and in doing so become frustrated so find other ways to express themselves.

But Mr Clark added: "There's a disproportionate amount of people who have changed the world who are left-handed - from army generals such as Alexander the Great or Napoleon, to artists such as Da Vinci, Michelangelo and Raphael."

GREATS A GAUCHE

Renowned left-handers

Isaac Newton

Henry Ford

Bill Gates

Barack Obama

Beethoven

Ghandi

Charlie Chaplin

Aristotle

Joan of Arc.

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