The majority of children will be able to tell their right and left consistently by age 7 or 8. But for a large amount of kids this concept never becomes second nature. Your child may experience difficulty in school and activities of daily living if they struggle with the idea of right left concepts.
Reversal of Letters
In the classroom you may see your child struggle with the reversal of b,d or p and q. That is because they are the same exact shape just turned differently. If there is confusion on directionality (up, down, right, left) or laterality (right or left side of the body) this skill can be quite difficult.
Right or Left Handed?
Another reason your child my have right left concept issues in school could be because the dominant hand hasn’t been established yet. If your child has difficulty visualizing the ABC’s or a number line in your head this could be due to the inability to see that G lands to the right of F and to the left H. When reading your child may read the wired from right to left instead of left to right (ex. G-a-b instead of b-a-g). In math, your child may have difficulty when they carry numbers during calculations that need to start from the right and start from the left. Plotting lines on a graph may drive them crazy.
Activities of daily life
Activities of daily living can be affected when trying to tie shoes, reading a clock, or playing sports. Significant difficulty can come up when given directions to follow especially when driving. Directions when meeting friends out like “I’ll be at the store to the right of the movie theater”.
Visual spacing processing
How people learn left from right isn’t well understood. But it likely involves how the brain makes sense of where objects are in space. This type of thinking is called visual-spatial processing. Visual-spatial trouble may make it harder to develop a sense of left and right. Kids with left-right confusion may also take longer to develop a dominant hand. Left-right confusion can exist on its own. But may be found in people who learn and think differently such as people with dyslexia.
Strategies to help
Some strategies to help kids learn their left to right concept easier include consistently practicing with them.
Using their hands
You can have your child can open both their hand out palms down and separate all fingers far apart.
Look at the thumb and the index finger and the one that makes the correct L is the left hand.
Wear a bracelet or watch
Another option is for the child to wear a watch or bracelet or rubber band on a specific arm and know that that is always the left or right hand.
Playing games like the hokey pokey and twister can help kids learn the right left concepts in children and the movement involved helps muscle memory in children.
If you or a loved one is in need of occupational therapy please call us today at 586-323-2957 to get started!
Tiffany Sinovic, MS, OTR/L