By: Sara Sciarrino, MS, OTR/L
Bilateral coordination, also referred to as bilateral integration, refers to the ability to use both sides of the body at the same time in a controlled and organized way. This skill is important for all different activities of our everyday lives, such as walking and running, zippering a jacket, going up and down stairs, and using two-handed tools, like scissors.
If your child struggles with tasks that require using two hands or two feet together, consider these five fun activities for the summer:
Nothing says summer like sidewalk chalk. Have your child draw a hopscotch pattern on the driveway or sidewalk. Encourage them to switch between jumping on one foot to two feet to get across the path. For an extra challenge, have them clap their hands in between each jump.
Blow bubbles outside and have your child reach up to pop them with both hands. For even more fun, have your child do crab kicks to pop the bubbles. This can be done by having them place their hands and feet flat on the ground with their stomach towards the sky and then kick one leg up at a time.
Wheelbarrow-Walking Relay Races
For a great outdoor game with friends, have one child go on their hands while someone holds their legs up in the air. Instruct the child to then begin walking on their hands, one after the other. This activity can be made easier or harder for a child depending on where the legs are held. To make it easier place your hands closer to the child’s hips. To make it more challenging, place your hands at their ankles.
To beat the heat and improve your child’s ability to coordinate both sides of their body at the same time, head to the pool. Swimming is a great and fun way to practice alternating movements of the arms and legs.
Throwing and catching a ball is a very common activity that requires bilateral coordination. To increase this skill in a way where dropping the ball is part of the fun, trying catching and throwing a water balloon with two hands.