Living in a right-handed world

You will already know which hand your child chooses to hold a pen or pencil in but do you know which ear they prefer to listen through or which eye they would use to look down a microscope? You may be surprised to know that the answers to these questions are hugely significant when it comes to their learning.

Many children are a combination of left and right – for instance, they could be right eyed, left eared, left handed and right footed.

As we live in a right-biased world, children who are right in all four areas have an automatic advantage when it comes to learning and development, but those with mixed dominance can face difficulties – for example, a child that is dominant in their left ear may find the classroom excessively noisy if sitting on the right.

So how can we help children who are a mixture? In most situations, it is not a case of trying to change the way a child’s brain has wired itself but helping the brain to be better able to cope.

It is now realised that the major hearing centre of the brain is in the left side, so when a child is right ear dominant, the sound enters the right ear and then travels through the hearing centre to the left brain. But if the child is left ear dominant, the sound has to travel across to the right and then back again via the hearing centre to the left. It may only take a nanosecond longer but in a noisy classroom this can make a big difference to a child.

Your child may also learn better sitting at the front of the classroom or at the back, depending on how their brain processes information from the blackboard (their eyes) and into their hand. This will be different for the various combinations of right and left dominance.

The mother of one Sunflower patient explains: “Sunflower was able to tell me that my son needed to sit at the front of the class facing the left in order to optimise his learning. I was able to take this information to the teacher and he is doing so much better at school now.  Even his maths teacher noticed an improvement in his concentration and confidence.”

A good way to help all children (whatever left/right brain dominance they have) is to get their senses engaged before school. Sunflower practitioner Sheree McGregor suggests co-ordination activities such as clapping and talking at the same time or some disco dancing with different movements to different sounds. This gets the brain up and running and more ready to learn.

Activities that can help a child’s senses be better integrated include:

  • Hopscotch
  • Tree climbing
  • Skipping
  • Marching or skipping while tapping a hand to the opposite knee
  • Raising your heel behind you when you are walking so your opposite hand can reach behind you to touch it
  • Dancing
  • Music
  • Sports
  • Art

So, how do you find out if your child is left or right dominant or a mixture of the two and how they are mixed?

Sunflower carries out a series of tests and assessments to discover how a child’s brain has developed but here are a few fun exercises that you can do at home to give you an indication:

Hands – Ask your child to catch a ball with one hand and see which one they choose. Also, which hand do they use to brush their teeth?

Ears – Hand them a shell and ask them to listen for the sea. Which ear do they hold it up to?

Feet – Tell your child to get into a position to start a race; the foot they put behind them is most likely to be their dominant foot. You could also put a coin on the floor in front of them and ask them to stand on it with one foot.

Eyes – Give your child a piece of paper with a small hole in the middle and ask them to hold it up and look through it. The eye they use is likely to be their dominant one.

To find out more about Sunflower: 01483 531498, email:




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