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Hand swapping

Hand dominance is where one hand has more influence or control than the other. This is sometimes referred to as hand preference, where one hand is preferred or chosen over the other, as it is more reliable in performing a range of skilled activities (handedness).

Children tend to develop hand dominance between the ages of 3 - 5 years old, for some it may be slightly later and for a few it does not become a subconscious decision until they are 8 or 9 years old. Many children will naturally develop a clear right or left-hand dominance.

Some can develop a mixed dominance (they are not ambidextrous), this is where a child finds they have more control and greater skills for handwriting with their left hand but prefer and display more precise skills with the right hand in tasks such as using scissors.

Key Stage 1 (5 - 7 year olds)

Key Stage 1 hand dominance development

Year 1 (5 - 6 year olds)

During the first term of Year 1 you may find some children will swap hands through a writing task, especially as the amount of time required for the task is longer than they have been used to. As they naturally develop the required hand strength for longer handwritten tasks the hand swapping will diminish. If it carries on into the later part of the first term then further investigation is required.

Year 2 (6 - 7 year olds)

By Year 2 we would expect hand swapping issues to have been addressed or appropriate intervention being taken to support the child.

Year 1 (5 - 6 year olds)

By the time the majority of children enter Year 1 they are secure in their hand dominance and their preferred hand for handwriting. However, some children may still be insecure or uncertain of which is their dominant or preferred hand for handwriting. These children will require extra support in the first term of Year 1 to acquire this development knowledge/skill.

Year 2 (6 - 7 year olds)

By the time children enter Year 2 they should be secure and understand which their preferred hand for handwriting is, whether they are a left or right-handed writer. For a few it may not yet be a subconscious decision, but it will come with time and patience.