Teaching right and left

Written by Jo Hood | Published

Teaching right and left

Helping children work through and learn their right and left can be daunting. “That’s your left, right!” Oops. “That’s your left, you’ve done great!” Phew. That makes more sense to a child. 

There are some wonderful ways you can sing and rhyme your way into left and right learning. One of them is the favourite We’re on our way song from More mainly music Christmas Songs. That song seems to achieve a little buzz from the grown-ups and children when it’s announced in a session. Have you used that song at home to create a fun moment where you can sing the lyrics and move to the left and right? Children love seeing you have a laugh and love to copy your antics. 

One recommendation we found on-line was to concentrate on teaching one term at a time, focussing on the child’s obvious dominant hand and corresponding foot. Once your child has mastered this, they can move onto learning the non-dominant hand and foot. Then you can start by explaining what is happening during the everyday activity of getting dressed. This has multiple benefits as you can use additional vocabulary and engage your child’s sense of worth. 

“I love the way you move. Let’s put your left arm into your left sleeve. How clever is that! I see your left hand coming through now! Let me kiss it!” 

It’s pretty obvious this isn’t going to be your banter every time there is a need to place clothing on your child. You could try for once a day. 

Here’s another idea: someone painted their child’s toe nails with a single colour of polish and placed a sticker of the same colour in that shoe, enabling their child to match the colours. 

Again, this was only undertaken with the same learning outcome being concentrated on. 

A rhyme to help children practice their left and right is below. If you remember while you’re facing your child, swap your hands over. For example, This is my left hand, I’ll raise it up high would see you holding up your right hand. That’s because your child is unable to make the swap and will only mirror you. 

Rather than correcting her mistakes, encourage by celebrating the correct use of the terminology. 

Right hand, left hand

This is my right hand
I’ll raise it high
This is my left hand
I’ll reach the sky
Right hand
Left hand
Roll them around
Left hand
Right hand
Pound, pound, pound
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