In the last few issues we have been looking at practical ways to help children develop their gross and fine motor skills in the classroom. This article looks at ways to develop bilateral coordination through fun activities and ideas.

Bilateral coordination means having the ability to use the arms and legs, both independently and both sides together in a controlled, integrated or coordinated way. This can be either a symmetrical movement (such as using both hands to push a rolling pin) or alternating movements (climbing stairs or pulling hand-over-hand up a rope).

We need bilateral coordination for many daily living activities such as walking, climbing stairs, or stirring food in a bowl. Some children with poor bilateral coordination would rather use one hand alone than both hands together, and may appear awkward in certain tasks.

They sometimes have difficulty with the following gross and fine motor activities as they all require both hands to work together well.

  • Gross motor activities: Hopping, jumping, catching a ball, beating a drum with rhythm, star jumps, climbing through a tunnel, as well as activities that involve crossing the midline.
  • Fine motor exercises: Stabilising a piece of paper in one hand while writing with the other, tying shoelaces, using a knife and fork, drawing a line with a ruler, threading beads, or cutting with a pair of scissors. Activities to help
  •  Playdough: Encourage children to roll large balls of playdough between the palms of his or her hands as this helps to get both hands working together.
  • Rope-Pull: Some children’s playgrounds have a rope-pull. The children have to pull themselves up using their arms and feet.
  • Jumping rope: Place a rope in a line on the ground and encourage children to jump over it landing with both feet together. As they become more confident you can start introducing regular skipping.
  • Drumming: Get children to alternatively hit a drum with two sticks (or their palms) in time to a musical beat, or a clapping rhythm.
  •  Bubble popping: All children love catching and popping bubbles. Blow some bubbles above a child’s head and encourage them to reach up and pop them.
  • Large ball activities: sit children on the ground and encourage them to roll, bounce and throw a large ball using both hands.
  • Air-biking: Get children to lie on their backs, lifting their feet in the air pretending to pedal a bicycle.
  • Spreading activities: Get children to spread food such as peanut butter on toast.
  • Paper tearing: Get children to tear small pieces of paper from a magazine and make a collage.