The Importance of Addressing Bilateral Coordination Skills at Home
by Marisa Fiorentino, OTR/L
Kids Place North Pediatric Occupational Therapist
Bilateral coordination skills are essential for successful participation in school activities, self-care tasks, participation in play activities, and so much more! Upper extremity bilateral coordination is being able to use both your left and right arms/hands together to complete any task.
Bilateral coordination activities can be categorized as symmetrical bilateral coordination tasks, asymmetrical bilateral coordination tasks, and reciprocal bilateral coordination tasks. Symmetrical bilateral coordination tasks involve using both hands in the same way whereas asymmetrical bilateral coordination tasks require a child to use one hand as a “helper hand” and one as the dominant hand/“doer.” Reciprocal tasks involve using your arms or legs in a rhythmical pattern like one does when swimming or crawling. Some examples of activities requiring good upper extremity bilateral coordination skills are buttoning, cutting, getting dressed, tying shoes, and utensil use.
Occupational therapists work with children on upper extremity bilateral coordination tasks every day, but there are activities your child can do at home to help promote these skills as well!
- Tearing small pieces of Play-Doh, putty, or paper to complete a fun craft
- Allow your child to help with baking activities requiring a rolling pin, mixing ingredients together, or using cookie cutters
- Children’s lacing boards or cards
- Beading both small or large beads onto string
- Encourage your child to participate in age-appropriate self-care activities such as putting on or taking off their clothes, buttoning, zipping, tying laces
- Geoboard using rubber bands to make fun designs
- Crafts requiring snipping, cutting lines, or cutting out shapes
- Playing catch with a small or large ball requiring 2 hands to hold
- Practice using a play fork and knife to cut play doh or putty
- Hide small beads in play doh or putty and have your child pick them out using their fingers
- Blow bubbles and have your child pop them between two hands
- Building with small Legos
If you have any concerns about you child’s bilateral coordination or other developmental milestones, reach out to us at Kids Place Pediatric Therapy!