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Handwriting Curriculum for Lefty

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I'm overthinking handwriting curriculum.
DD, my oldest, is almost 5 and reading proficiently. Overall she picks things up at a normal to slightly fast pace. I wouldn't stress about teaching her handwriting but she's a leftie. I've read so much on yes & no & contradicting rules on leftie modifications that it's made my head spin.
Goals are for her to have decent if not beautiful handwriting and for it to become easy and painless. Personally I prefer a zaner-bloser type look, and want something that will not lift the pencil in the middle of letter formation as much as possible.
Even though she's reading & spelling well, she has no training on letter formation whatsoever. She wants to start writing, but does not regularly attempt to draw letters. I've been so afraid of ingraining bad habits that I've not encouraged it at all.
So, here are the curriculum I've been contemplating and questions about each.

Peterson Directed Handwriting - I like the idea of ingraining the movements with rhythm, and they seem so passionate about handwriting. I wonder if it's overkill for most. Also, they say there are lefty skills, is this beyond paper slant? Do they actually recommend some different stroke directions? I downloaded a PDF from their site about teaching lefties, but I didn't see in it any directions about which letters should/shouldn't have modifications. Can anyone speak to this from a lefty perspective?
Handwriting without tears - I know so many love it, I kinda wonder if it's overrated. Yes, the letters are a little ugly/weird. Should I just suck that up and go with the program everybody and their dog does?
Zaner Bloser workbook - Again, not clear that it has lefty modifications. I'm also confused on what I'd need to order to teach (just the workbook? Teacher manual?). Does the current set of workbooks teach the old style, or the 'simplified' ZB that limits pencil lifts (e.g. for 'b' go down then trace partway back up and go around)? Do they group letters based on common formation?
Simply Charlotte Mason's Delightful Handwriting - I like the simple aspect of this, but I've seen it mentioned that aside from a top bound coil, it doesn't address lefty quirks.

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We are using Zaner-Bloser here. DS7 is a lefty. Even after going through the K book casually and the 1st grade book faithfully, he still prints most letters & numbers from bottom up and from right to left. He also has many reversals when printing. There was a while where everything he wrote was a mirror image of correct writing. We've recently started the 2C book, and he's really liking cursive. (DS10 is using the 5th grade book.) The only modification for a lefty is direction of paper slant. I remind him to keep his hand below his writing, and he does a good job. I'm hoping that the more he uses cursive, the better his printing will get.

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Don't have any experience with those specific curricula, but I do have two lefties.  As far as it goes, the number one thing that helped me teach them handwriting was making the effort to write with my left hand (I'm a rightie).  Nothing makes the nuts and bolts of writing left-handed clearer than to pick up a pencil in your left hand and try it out yourself.  (Idk about you, but the how-to-position-your-page instructions always made no sense to me - I had to actually pick up the pencil left-handed and move the paper around till my slant looked right before it made sense.)  Plus it made demonstrating and troubleshooting problems for the kids much easier when I used my left hand just like they were, even though I'm no better than semi-adequate writing left-handed.  (Was an interesting experience, having to consciously pay attention to letter formation - helped me explain techniques for trickier letters better, when I had to figure out how to prevent *myself* from writing them mirror-image.)

I'm not necessarily proud of this, but I used no program to teach printing.  Just lots of copywork.  I demonstrated a cursive-friendly letter formation (aka the one that cursive-writing me found most natural), but didn't force it.  There was plenty of bottom-up and right-to-left letter and number formation from all three, but especially the lefties.  (I actually didn't teach letter formation to my youngest lefty - he learnt at preschool - and he's the most idiosyncratic of the lot.)  I used Smithhand to teach cursive (because I liked the stroke focus and the appearance), and the process of learning cursive did wonders for my oldest lefty's handwriting, printing as well as cursive.  I didn't need to modify anything but paper slant (and tbh I didn't worry overmuch about that).  My oldest lefty ended up naturally writing the meant-to-be-slanted cursive straight up-and-down, and it hasn't been a problem - it looks good and writes fine.

I did make the kids always use "school pencils" that encouraged a tripod hold during school, and I corrected their grip as much as possible.  And I did watch out for if my lefties started "hooking" their hand, and corrected it right away.

Honestly, teaching my lefties has gone about the same as teaching my righty.   I stressed about handwriting too - a main reason why I never actually *taught* print (hello, procrastination, my old friend) - and, idk, between casual corrections and putting a fair bit of work into cursive (I used cursive as part of phonics reinforcement), it so far seems to have worked out well enough despite my haphazard approach.  Unless your dd turns out to have some kind of writing issue, I expect any decent-ish handwriting program, done with decent-ish attention, will work just fine. 

Edited by forty-two
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We just use copybook as well.  My son is a lefty and is 6yo.  We just started working on letter formation in K because he couldn’t seem to decide which hand he preferred prior to that time.  I really like the stabilo easystart pencils.  They have a comfortable grip that goes all the way down the pencil.  Stock comes and goes on amazon as stabilo doesn’t sell directly in the US.

https://www.amazon.com/Stabilo-EASYgraph-Ergonomic-Graphite-Pencils/dp/B077SMQJVQ

 

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I was in a very similar situation with my son, who is turning 6 in a couple of months. He has been reading independently for over a year now, but I delayed his handwriting instruction because he's a lefty, and also because bad handwriting runs in my family. So I was nervous and kept overthinking. I did teach him basic letter formation when he was 4.5 using two iPad apps: the Letter School (you get to choose the font, and I believe both ZB and HWT might be among the options) and Wet Dry Try by HWT. I also ended up getting him a small slate on eBay and had him use it to practice writing letters in chalk, the way Wet Dry Try teaches them. It was fun. The HWT app has a toggle for lefties to adjust the direction of some of the strokes. If you are not ready to commit to a curriculum, perhaps you could try these two apps + slate and chalk first. 

So, anyway, we finally started proper handwriting instruction in September. I decided to go with GD Italic, and we both love it. I really don't know what I was worried about. My son's handwriting is completely legible now, and actually quite pretty as for the handwriting of someone who's only been practicing for two months. GD has some recommendations for lefties in terms of positioning the paper, etc, and I let my son use some of the lefty modifications he learned from the HWT app. I watch him like a hawk when he practices because I want to make sure he forms good habits. I often step in and have him practice a letter that I think he's not doing very well with. I always try to explain why a particular letter looks good or bad. But we keep our handwiring sessions very short for now: one page in the GD workbook plus one sentence he gets to come up with by himself.

I like the look of GD Italic, although I prefer the loopy cursive styles if they are done well. Still, my goal was for my son to have legible, comfortable and pretty handwriting, and I thought GD Italic would get him there with the least effort and the least risk of having him end up with an illegible or unattractive style. Additionally, we can later do Italic calligraphy (which I think looks stunning) if we want to kick it up a notch.

Anyway, I know Italic is not on your list, but I thought I would throw it out there since your situation sounds similar to mine, and the curriculum has been working so well for my leftie. Good luck!

P.S. My son finds the Paper Mate triangular #2 lead mechanical pencils very comfortable to write with. I have a bunch of those things that you put on pencils to make the grip more comfortable, but we haven't really been using them.

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I'm so glad the OP asked this! Captain is also a lefty, and I have been slightly panicking about teaching him to write. I'm at the point in my journey where I do not feel the need for a program, rather I need tools to be sure he holds his pencil correctly. We use mechanical pencils here so regular slide on grips will not work. I bought him a 2 -pack of beginner pencils because they are thicker, like our Lyra colored pencils. He seems to do better with these for now. How do you fix the mirror image and directionality? 

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11 hours ago, Mom2mthj said:

We just use copybook as well.  My son is a lefty and is 6yo.  We just started working on letter formation in K because he couldn’t seem to decide which hand he preferred prior to that time.  I really like the stabilo easystart pencils.  They have a comfortable grip that goes all the way down the pencil.  Stock comes and goes on amazon as stabilo doesn’t sell directly in the US.

https://www.amazon.com/Stabilo-EASYgraph-Ergonomic-Graphite-Pencils/dp/B077SMQJVQ

 

 

I second these pencils. We actually have both left- and right-handed versions for beginning writers in my house. The kids like them very much.

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I have 2 lefties.   One stuggled (still struggles at age 11) with handwriting and fine motor skills, the other doesn't.

I used Handwriting Without Tears.  The font they teach is ugly, BUT the program is so very lefty friendly, with explicit instruction on lefty mechanics.  It was particularly good for my fine-motor-stuggler.  He needed systematic instruction, with lots of attention to proper mechanics - correct grip, correct hand placement, correct paper angle, avoiding hooked wrist posture, correct letter formation.  HWT does this in wee little steps that are foolproof.  HWT is the reason my 11 year old has handwriting that is at all legible, instead of a total mess.  I bought the kindy instructors guide and the cursive level instructors guide, workbooks and notebook paper.  I did NOT buy all the manipulatives - they were pretty easy to make myself  inexpensively; I can break my own chalk into little bits and cut up my own sponges, thank you very much, no need to buy broken chalk bits etc.   Golf pencils, dollar-store chalkboards (applied lines using automotive vinyl pin-striping tape), cardboard "wood" letter pieces etc. 

My other lefty would probably have been fine with any program with a few tweaks:   Examples to copy placed above the line( rather than to the left of it where is it covered by his hand), paper angle, etc.

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I have two lefties. I never did anything differently with them than with my right-handed kids. They used the same handwriting workbooks and I didn't tweak things at all. So maybe you are overthinking it. Maybe you could just let her try, and keep in mind the things to look for that are no-no's. I think the only thing I looked for was to make sure they didn't hook their hand while writing.

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I don't have experience with the programs you mentioned. I have 2 lefties, my 10yo and my 6yo. New American Cursive worked well for one, and seems to be working for the second one as well. It's cursive, I couldn't tell if that was okay for what you were looking for. The copybook is coiled on the top so it doesn't get in the way of the left hand, they have reminders on paper orientation for both right and lefthanded users. Also, my now-10yo started when she was 5 and wasn't too difficult for her. 

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No experience with lefties, but wanted to suggest Print Path. it is similar to HWT in that it was developed by an OT, but not exactly the same. And uses 3 lined paper not 2 lined. It is available on Teachers Pay Teachers and is my favorite program. https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/HANDWRITING-Begins-Here-Capitals-First-Explicit-Instruction-Uppercase-831529

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Off topic: does anyone else teach their kids that not all capital letters  start at the top? Some like A, M, and N are more fluid starting at the bottom. E and F are faster starting like a staple then adding the extra line.

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I've got two lefties, 9 and 13. Both initially learned using Handwriting Without Tears. Honestly, I do think that program is a bit overrated if your child does not seem to need a full immersion in a variety of media in order to learn. That said, it is a strong program, and one reason I liked it for my lefties is the way each page is set up so my lefties are not covereing up the examples. If you look at the page set-up, there is a large example on the top, and then several examples across the lines. If you choose a program with the example along the left hand side of the page, your child will immediately cover up what she is supposed to imitate. Another great aspect of HWOT is the first levels that help the child explore letter formation in a variety of ways without even putting pencil to paper--this is a great first step for lefties, who will not find writing as accommodating to their handedness. However, you can add this step to any program that you choose--just have her use a rice bin, sidewalk chalk, pipe-cleaners, etc. Youtube will have lots of ideas. On the down side for HWOT, there does seem to be quite a bit of pencil lifting in the program--an aspect I regret for my 8yo leftie who also suffers from dysgraphia. I think less lifting would be less tiring.  It was the perfect fit for my 13 yo who has Down syndrome and needed a very incremental, explicitly taught program--but even he has altered the way he writes some of the letters in such a way that I can see it is easier for his left-handedness. I've come to accept a few unorthodox methods with my lefties. Neither my lefties nor my rightie (who also used HWOT) has handwriting that "looks" like HWOT font.

One thing to consider with lefthandedness you end up "pushing" your pencil forward if forming letters conventionally, whereas righties get to "pull" their pencil toward their hands. It is difficult to push a pen/pencil forward if it does not glide on the paper well, so choosing a program that has quality paper (smooth rather than newsprint) is important (especially as children tend to press really hard in the beginning), as well as a pencil that glides easily. One way I get around this is I use a program I bought in PDF form so I can print it on quality paper from home. You might check out "Handwriting Lessons Through Literature" from Barefoot Ragamuffin Curricula. Just an idea, but you can purchase this program in one of several different fonts, or if you purchase it in PDF form you get all four fonts, that includes Manuscript print (like HWOT), Zaner-Bloser, and two cursive fonts (the PDF, even with all four fonts, is cheaper than a print book--I think). It might be nice to have all four to play around with, using your own left hand to test ease of use. The program page is set up much like HWOT with the examples at the top and across the page, which is accomodating to lefties. Also, printing it out will allow you multiple uses and the ability to choose a paper texture that will not hinder your childs experience. If you want to bind it, bind across the top so the binding will not get in the way of practice. It might be a good first step, and then once you find a font you can live with, move on to something else you liked. My 8yo leftie/dysgraphia kiddo uses "Handwriting Lessons Through Literature" on a weekly basis now, using the initial program for brushing up on form, and the copywork books for practice. I also have him learning cursive, which honestly, I wish I had started with for him, in hopes less lifitng will reduce discomfort and fatigue. And upright cursive seems much easier for him than when we tried slant cursive--slant cursive has too much forward pushing. 

I really don't think you are overthinking--writing is completely catered to right-handedness. Just be willing to expect some trial and error as you find what is going to work well for your kiddo. Also, I have not regretted teaching my youngest lefty typing starting in 1st grade, as I can see for higher level academic work, it is just going to be so much easier for him to type than to handwrite when it comes to work that will require more than a page or so.  Good luck!

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As for slant, I found it interesting that the D’Nealian book I purchased for later this year shows it acceptable to slant right or left.  The only one they didn’t like was a mix.

Books/notepads with smooth paper are good for everyone!

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Wow, thank you so much for all the responses, they've helped shed some light on a few things. 

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2 hours ago, mshanson3121 said:

To me (a leftie), the biggest thing is getting a book that is bound at the top, not the left, if it's a spiral bound book. That makes a big difference.  That said, my personal favorite is Handwriting Without Tears, as I find their format works for anyone, and their books lay pretty flat (they're just staple bound). You could also get the left binding cut off and have it top bound at Staples. Another trick, is if you're using spiral bound notebooks, to let them use the book upside down - that way, the binding will be on the right.

Another reason I like Print Path - very similar to Handwriting without Tears, but you print it out so no binding  in the way. We use it in a 3 ring binder and just take the page out as he works. Plus if i see something he really needs extra work on I can print another copy and sneak it in a few days later 

Edited by Ktgrok
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