12 Tips to Teach Your Child Left and Right

Start by teaching your child laterality or the internal awareness of the body’s left and right sides. Then, you can progress to teaching children to distinguish left and right with objects, such as shoes.  

Make sure to sit or stand next to your child rather than across from them when teaching and use your own body to demonstrate.

Left and right discrimination is a difficult concept to learn and can require practice. It is generally mastered by the age of five or six.

Here are some ideas to help your child learn how to distinguish the two:

1. Start with your child’s dominant side and teach her that it’s her left or right side. When kids are right-handed, I like to say, “You write with your right.”

2. Identify and reinforce your child’s dominant hand. Then, put a stamp or washable tattoo on it. Another option is to wear a bracelet on his dominant arm to help him remember.

3. Hold your child’s dominant hand when you cross the street and tell her you’re going to hold her left or right hand.

4. Do the Hokey Pokey to help teach directions and develop muscle memory.

5. Teach your child to dress, beginning with his dominant side. Give verbal cues such as, “Put your right arm through the sleeve.”

6. Write the first half of your child’s name in her left shoe and the second half in her right shoe. Then she can see her name when she sees her shoes on the floor. 

7. Have your child hold his hands in front of him with his fingers straight out and thumbs toward the middle. See the photo above. Show him how his left-hand looks like the capital letter L, which is left. Therefore, the other hand is right.

8. Play games such as Simon Says, Twister, and Left Center Right to reinforce direction concepts. 

9. Do some fun printable left/right worksheets with your child.

10. Incorporate directions during walks by having your child tell you which way she is turning. Likewise, the idea can be reinforced while driving and listening to GPS directions, “turn left in 500 feet.” The car turning left then reinforces the direction. 

11. Do sorting activities in which your child has to place one type of object on a paper placed on his left and a different kind of object on the paper to his right.

12. Once your child has mastered laterality, have her trace, cut out, decorate, and label her paper hands left and right. Make your own set of paper hands. Stand across from your child and shake paper hands using either your right or left paper hands. This exercise is a playful way to begin teaching the concept of mirrored sides.


About Skills 4 Life:

Skills 4 Life Pediatric Occupational Therapy offers a broad range of pediatric occupational therapy services to help your child master age-appropriate developmental skills, become more independent, increase academic success & develop confidence. The experts at Skills 4 Life specialize in handwriting, keyboarding & executive function coaching, but also work with children on social & emotional learning, motor skills, self-regulation strategies & activities of daily living. Skills 4 Life Pediatric Occupational Therapy offers your child a safe, compassionate environment to learn the critical skills they need to be successful. Learn more about our team & services at www.skills4lifeot.com, or you can contact our office by email at karina@skills4lifeot.com or by phone at 303.351.1828 for a free consultation.

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