The Importance of Learning Left and Right

Does your child have difficulty learning left and right? Most children learn their left from their right by the age of 6 or 7. Learning laterality and directionality are foundational skills in being able to learn the difference between letters, numbers and words. Learning left from right and front from back are important for understanding how objects are rotated and how they relate to each other in space.

Children who have trouble learning their right from their left also might have difficulties with school work such as: 

  • Letter/number reversals (most commonly: b, d, p, q, g, m, w, u, n, 6, 9) – Reading right to left instead of right to left (reading the word “tab” instead of “bat”) – Following directions that involve spatial concepts (left, right, front, back, etc.) – Poor spacing between words and/or numbers 
  • Misaligning math problems 

Tips and Activities to help learn left from right: 

  • The game Twister 
  • Following along to songs like hokey pokey 
  • Playing Simon Says 
  • Left/Right Game: have your child hold two plastic cups (1 in each hand). Sit across the table from them and roll a marble to them and call out what cup they need to catch the marble in as it rolls off the table (Left cup or Right cup). This is a great visual-motor activity and helps learn left from right. 
  • The game “Left, Right, Center” 
  • Teach your child to put their hands out in front of them, palms facing down, with fingers together and thumb out. The left index finger and thumb will make the letter L. This might help them remember that the left hand makes the letter L (index finger making the vertical part of the L and the thumb making the horizontal part of the L).

-Marla Griswold, OTR/L