Bilateral coordination is the underlying skill that allows us to use the two sides of our bodies in complimentary ways in order to complete a task. Skills that require efficient bilateral coordination include manipulating paper while cutting with scissors, tying shoe laces, stabilizing the bottom of a zipper while pulling the zipper closed, cutting food with a fork and knife or holding a piece of bread while spreading peanut butter.
If your child is having trouble with tasks that rely on bilateral coordination, try to encourage some of these play activities:
- Playing card games: dealing the cards, stabilizing a group of cards while removing one card from the hand.
- Stringing beads over pipe cleaners, shoelaces or stretchy string to make a craft project.
- Building with manipulatives, such as Legos, Wedgit blocks or other toys.
- Paper folding activities: paper airplanes or origami creations, here is a link to some simple origami patterns.
- Using modeling clay or Play Doh: molding, kneading and shaping the materials, using scissors or a fork and butter knife to cut through the clay.
- Stabilizing a paper on a vertical surface while coloring or painting.
- Kitchen helper activities: stabilizing a bowl while stirring, spreading butter, frosting or other soft food items, holding a cup while washing or drying it.
Keep in mind that simply practicing bilateral coordination tasks will not lead to a mastery of shoe tying overnight. Children need the chance to practice, practice, practice and develop the underlying skills required to take on more complex activities.