Encouraging Kids When Left Is Right


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"My son writes with his left hand. Please fix that," says a left-handed parent to the child's kindergarten teacher on the first day of school.

Surprising? Perhaps. Historically, however, young children have been encouraged — and sometimes forced — to use their right hands for most life activities, such as writing and eating.

Lefties are different

Handedness seems to be a biological occurrence, not cultural, since the percentage of lefties in most populations is about the same. Handedness seems to be the way our brains are programmed from early on.

About 10 to 12 percent of people are left-handed, a definite minority. It is somewhat understandable that a parent would find it easier for her child to be in the majority. After all, childhood and schooling can be hard enough.

According to Rae Lindsay, author of Left is Right: The Survival Guide for Living Lefty in a Right-Handed World, "There is a correlation between being left-handed and ambidextrous and several physiological conditions, among them stuttering and dyslexia."

Many artists and athletes have excelled in their fields using their handiness to their advantage. Left-handed fist-fighters have been thought to have the advantage because of the "surprise" factor. Although the link has not been scientifically proven, left-handed people are often considered to be more creative as a group than their right-handed counterparts.

In James T. deKay's book, Left-Handed Kids: Why Are They So Different? he claims that left-handed children tend to be messier, dreamier and more emotional than their right-handed peers. De Kay also says that lefties are likely to be smarter and more comical than right-handers.

One third of the American presidents since 1945 have been left-handed. Ronald Reagan was born a lefty but was forced to switch. Other famous lefties include: Aristotle, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Ben Franklin, Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein, Mark Twain, Oprah Winfrey and Bill Gates. Famous comics who are lefties include: Charlie Chaplin, Harpo Marx, W.C. Fields, Dick van Dyke, Carol Burnett, Richard Pryor, Jay Leno and Jerry Seinfeld.

DeKay writes that the "rational right-handed brain handles words" while the left-handed brain thinks in pictures. He writes how the left-handed brain "understands three-dimensional space, music, tone of voice and is highly imaginative."

Teaching left-handed kids

The world is not convenient for left-handed people. "You just have to adjust," says Lori Deleuze, a kindergarten teacher. A lefty herself, Deleuze has been teaching pre-k and kindergarten for 14 years.

As an early childhood teacher, Deleuze reminds parents that "handedness is a trait that you're born with, part of who you are and linked to creativity." She adds that left-handed children have to adapt to the way teachers relate to how they learn something for the first time, such as holding a pencil. Naturally left-handed people who were forced to "switch" to their right hands as children often experience confusion and frustration.

Left-handed children should be taught early on how to comfortably hold their pencil and position the paper. Parents and teachers can encourage left-handed children to use techniques that will lead to smooth writing and classroom experiences.

Adults should be mindful that left-handed children need left-handed tools and learning materials, such as scissors and desks. They shouldn't be expected to use their nondominant hand or side or to articulate their needs.

Right-handed adults should sit across from left-handed children, instead of next to them, to provide a mirror image to model. Tips to ease the writing process can be found at www.lefthander.com/writer.htm and http://handedness.org/action/leftwrite.html.

Above all, left-handed children should be encouraged to remain left-handed. Parents should teach their child to celebrate his or her left-handedness, especially if they are struggling or feeling different because of it.

Tell your left-handed child about the many famous left-handed individuals who have made major contributions throughout history. Being left for them is most definitely right!

Louise Hajjar Diamond is a guidance counselor, freelance writer and mother of two living in South Florida. She is right-handed and has gained a newfound respect for lefties.

Left-HANDED HistoryThroughout history, left-handed individuals have been viewed with curiosity and apprehension. As described in Rae Lindsay's book, Left is Right: The Survival Guide for Living Lefty in a Right-Handed World, most anthropologists agree that handedness was split evenly during the Stone Age.

During the Bronze Age, as tools became more sophisticated, they were designed to be used with the right hand. By about the 5th century BC, the Greeks began to write left to right, and the right hand was clearly preferred as dominant.

For centuries, left-handed people considered themselves oppressed by the right-handed majority. European languages have consistently shown a bias towards to the right; the Latin word for right-handed is dexter, as in dexterity, meaning skillful. On the other hand, the Italian word sinistra means both evil and left.

In recent years, these superstitious misconceptions have subsided, although lefties still live in a world that is primarily designed for right-handers. Still, lefties are usually more flexible and can even perform some tasks ambidextrously out of necessity.

RESOURCES

Books

The Left Stuff by Melissa Roth
Left-Handed Kids: Why Are They So Different? by James T. deKay

Left Is Right: The Survival Guide for Living Lefty in a Right-Handed World by Rae Lindsay

The Natural Superiority of the Left-Hander by James T. deKay

The World's Greatest Left-Handers by James T. deKay

Websites

www.lefthander.com/writer.htm
http://handedness.org/action/leftwrite.html

Both show lefties how to write with ease.

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December 2019

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Joyner Park Community Center
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Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
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Historic Polk House
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Raleigh, NC  27604
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Century Center
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Wake Forest Renaissance Centre
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Baldwin Auditorium, Duke University
1336 Campus Dr.
Durham, NC  27705
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Wake Forest Presbyterian Church
12605 Capital Blvd
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Sponsor: Wake Forest Presbyterian Church
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Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
2 East South Street
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Sponsor: Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
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White Plains United Methodist Church
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Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Rd
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Telephone: 919-662-2850

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Harris Lake County Park
2112 County Park Dr.
New Hill, NC  27562
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Telephone: 919-387-4342
Contact Name: Joanne St. Clair
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Cary Arts Center
101 Dry Ave.
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Century Center
100 N. Greensboro St.
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Bond Park
801 High House Rd.
Cary, NC
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Cost: $15 and up

Where:
PNC Arena
1400 Edwards Mill Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
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Ages 1-5 and caregiver delight in the discoveries of nature. Register online. 

Cost: $8/resident, $10/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

Get into the holiday spirit by decorating cooking, making a craft and enjoying a holiday children's show.

Cost: Free

Where:
Century Center
100 N. Greensboro St.
Carrboro, NC  27510
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Cost: Free

Where:
Wake Forest Renaissance Centre
405 S. Brooks St.
Wake Forest, NC  27587
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Embark on a wild ride with favorite Disney characters Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and many others in this fun-filled getaway featuring unexpected hijinks and character interaction. Purchase tickets...

Cost: $15 and up

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PNC Arena
1400 Edwards Mill Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
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Orange County Main Library
137 W Margaret Ln
Hillsborough, NC  27278
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Sponsor: Orange County Public Library
Telephone: 919-245-2539
Contact Name: Libbie Hough
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Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Rd
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Telephone: 919-662-2850
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North Carolina Museum of Art East Building and Museum Plaza
Raleigh, NC


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Harris Lake County Park
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Contact Name: Joanne St. Clair
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Cost: $30/resident, $45/nonresident

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Halle Cultural Arts Center
237 N. Salem St.
Apex, NC  27502
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Cost: $18/child; $28 for two children per family

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Middle Creek Community Center
125 Middle Creek Ave.
Apex, NC  27539
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Cost: Free

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Crossroads Fellowship
2721 E Millbrook Road
Raleigh, NC  27604
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Sponsor: Crossroads Fellowship
Telephone: 919-981-0222
Contact Name: Lorraine Entwisle
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1058 West Club Blvd
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Telephone: 919-560-2726
Contact Name: Lauren Tannenbaum
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Cost: $15 and up

Where:
PNC Arena
1400 Edwards Mill Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
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Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

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Cary Senior Center
120 Maury O'Dell Place
, NC  27513
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Cost: $32/resident, $42/nonresident

Where:
Cary Arts Center
101 Dry Ave.
Cary, NC  27511
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Cost: Free

Where:
Baileywick Road Park
9501 Baileywick Rd
Second Shelter Field
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Sponsor: Raleigh Redhawks Rugby
Contact Name: denise travis
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Cost: $30 - $35

Where:
Koka Booth Amphitheater
8003 Regency Pkwy
Cary, NC  27518
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Sponsor: Girls on the Run of the Triangle
Telephone: 919-401-6307
Contact Name: Jamie Botta
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Ages 5-12 make a picture frame for the holidays. Snack provided. Register online. 

Cost: $30/resident, $45/nonresident

Where:
Halle Cultural Arts Center
237 N. Salem St.
Apex, NC  27502
View map »


Website »

More information

Ages 1-5 and caregiver delight in the discoveries of nature. Register online. 

Cost: $8/resident, $10/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

Travel with us to Puerto Rico with books, games and arts and crafts!  Join the staff of ISLA (Immersion for Spanish Language Acquisition) for a fun filled hour! Best for ages 3 and up with a...

Cost: Free Gratis

Where:
Orange County Main Library
137 W Margaret Ln
Hillsborough, NC  27278
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Sponsor: Orange County Public Library
Telephone: 919-245-2539
Contact Name: Libbie Hough
Website »

More information

Embark on a wild ride with favorite Disney characters Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and many others in this fun-filled getaway featuring unexpected hijinks and character interaction. Purchase tickets...

Cost: $15 and up

Where:
PNC Arena
1400 Edwards Mill Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Website »

More information

One ticket admits the entire family to decorate a special gingerbread house. Supplies provided. Workshops available at 2 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. Allergy-free workshop available at 11 a.m....

Cost: $40

Where:
Family Preschool
4907 Garrett Rd
Durham, NC  27707
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Sponsor: Family Preschool
Telephone: 919-402-1500
Contact Name: Sue Henson
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Family Wildlife Series: Holiday Habitat Helpers Saturday, December 14, 2-3 Attract winter wildlife to your backyard by providing or improving their habitat.  Create simple outdoor decorations...

Cost: Free

Where:
Blue Jay Point County Park
3200 Pleasant Union Church Rd
Raleigh, NC  27614
View map »


Website »

More information

Embark on a wild ride with favorite Disney characters Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and many others in this fun-filled getaway featuring unexpected hijinks and character interaction. Purchase tickets...

Cost: $15 and up

Where:
PNC Arena
1400 Edwards Mill Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Website »

More information

Embark on a wild ride with favorite Disney characters Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and many others in this fun-filled getaway featuring unexpected hijinks and character interaction. Purchase tickets...

Cost: $15 and up

Where:
PNC Arena
1400 Edwards Mill Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Website »

More information

Join us as we watch for meteors during the Gemenids Meteor Shower. Local astronomers will help us observe these shooting stars and other phenomena in the night sky. As a bonus we may see or hear...

Cost: Free

Where:
American Tobacco Trail
1309 New Hill-Olive Chapel Rd.
Apex, NC  27502
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Sponsor: Harris Lake County Park and the American Tobacco Trail
Telephone: 919-387-4342
Contact Name: Joanne St. Clair
Website »

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Favorite Christmas songs are presented in authentic Nashville country style with dazzling guitars and fiddles along with soaring harmonies. Purchase tickets online. 

Cost: $25/person

Where:
Wake Forest Renaissance Centre
405 S. Brooks St.
Wake Forest, NC  27587
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See the choir perform beloved Christmas songs with guest vocal group AVANTE. Purchase tickets online. 

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Cary Arts Center
101 Dry Ave.
Cary, NC  27511
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