When people initially think of coordination, physical activities (such as running, skipping, and playing sports) are usually the first things that come to mind. In the therapy world, however, coordination can refer to several different things. In general, bilateral coordination is the ability to use both sides of your body together in order to perform an activity. Occupational therapists tend to think about bilateral coordination as both gross motor skills and fine motor skills. Bilateral coordination of the hands is required to perform most fine motor tasks.
Here are four examples of the way we use our hands together:
- Stabilizing the paper with one hand while writing or drawing with the other hand.
- Cutting paper with one hand and manipulating/turning the paper with your other hand.
- Using one hand to hold one side of you coat while zipping it up with the other hand.
- Tying shoes.
If your child is having difficulty using both hands together to perform fine motor tasks, here are some activities to have him/her practice in order to better develop the coordination of the hands:
- Screwing on lids of jars and opening and closing Tupperware lids.
- Scooping objects (e.g., rice or beans) with a cup with one hand and holding the bucket while pouring them inside.
- Hand games, such as “Miss Mary Mack”.
- Folding paper into paper airplanes or making fortune tellers.
- Putting together and taking apart Legos.
- Making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
- Stirring ingredients in a bowl while holding onto the bowl with one hand.
- Rolling play-doh into a snake, flattening it into a pancake and rolling it into a ball.
- Playing a card game, including shuffling the cards, dealing the cards and holding the fanned out cards with one hand.
- Making a beaded bracelet by threading beads onto a string.
These are just some of the many ways you can encourage your child to use both hands while at home and at school. Improving the coordination of both hands will set your child up for success for fine motor activities that are important for your child’s educational success and independence with everyday skills.