Learning to distinguish left from right is first noted during the preschool years. It is however, still to some extent an effort for some adults in their daily lives. So, how does one effectively teach a child to differentiate between the two?
Simply said, the answer lies in repetition. Daily activities or specific games during play time, can greatly assist your child in learning and understanding left from right. It is however, recommended not to your child by teaching both at the same time as this could cause frustration early on, becoming problematic as the teaching progresses. The best option is to start with your child’s dominant side.
If you are unsure which is the dominant side there are several ways to determine such. Have them lift an object and take note of which hand is used. This is generally a good indicator.
Thereafter repetition is key. Below are a few activities you can attempt with your little one:
Playing games such as ‘Simon Says’ is a fun way to actively introduce the concept of left and right. Having the child use specific hands or moving left and/or right when Simon says to do so is a great way to practice and improve their awareness and addition to this activity, it improves a multitude of motor skills as well.
The Hokey Pokey
‘The Hokey Pokey’ is another exciting method to introduce learning left from right while simultaneously incorporating body movement which assists the development of your child’s motor skills as they sing and dance. When they sing along and move according to the words, they will automatically develop the sense of left and right, and their muscle memory will develop.
Find the lyrics here.
Playdough to Plato introduces the ‘smelly hand’ method. Whilst getting ready for the day, have your child offer their dominant hand. Rub a suitable amount of scented lip-balm or lotion on the back of their hand. This is best when a pleasant scent that they enjoy is used, as they will most probably smell it throughout the day. Soon enough they will learn which hand to present for the scent. This will occur after a few tries.
Just like the ‘scented hand method’, using stickers, or temporary tattoos, is a simple and fun method to help your child recognise left from right. Children will definitely enjoy this if they are given the opportunity to choose their tattoo for the day.
Have a look at our colourful range of non-toxic temporary tattoos here.
Left foot, Right foot labels
It is a great idea to include the rest of the body when learning about left and right. Don’t only concentrate on their hands. Label shoes on the soles or inside the actual show by using either stickers, labels, words, or symbols to help them learn which shoe goes on which foot.
Learning new things can often be daunting. However, it can be a lot less challenging if it is done in a fun and interesting way. Better yet, join in on the activities. Remember, no-one is ever too old to learn!