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Bilateral integration (coordinating left and right side)

Bilateral integration is a key part of development and allows you to coordinate the right and left sides of your body effectively and develop hand preference (right handed or left handed).

This coordination means that you can use both your right and left hands together to complete tasks, such as tying your shoelaces, dressing yourself, cutting with scissors and even driving a car.

If a child is having difficulty with this coordination, you’ll notice that they struggle with tasks like:

  • Tying their shoelaces or their school tie
  • Doing up zips and buttons
  • Using a knife and fork together
  • Using scissors
  • Dressing and undressing
  • Opening packets
  • Threading a needle
  • Throwing and catching a ball

There are a number of activities you can do with your child to help them improve their coordination, including:

  • Asking them to stand with their arms out in front of them and lift their knees to touch their hands. Start with the left knee and the left hand, then the right knee and the right hand, then left knee to right hand and right knee to left hand and keep repeating
  • Asking them to pat their stomach with one hand and, at the same time, move their other hand in circles above their head
  • Playing games with a large ball so they have to use both hands to roll, throw and catch it
  • Holding a blanket, or something similar, with them and place a football in the middle. Ask them to use the sheet to make the ball move without letting it roll off the top
  • Asking them to hold a bat with both hands and throwing a ball for them to hit
  • Asking them to step inside a hula-hoop, lift it up from the ground and over their head several times
  • Playing ball games that include catching, throwing and hitting a target
  • Encouraging them to skip with a skipping rope
  • Play clapping games and rhymes
  • Encouraging them to play with construction toys, such as Duplo, Lego, Megablocks or Sticklebricks
  • Encouraging them to use two hands to burst bubbles
  • Singing action songs that use both hands, such as ‘Heads, shoulders, knees and toes’
  • Playing with musical instruments that use both hands, such as cymbals
  • Threading beads and buttons
  • Helping in the kitchen by kneading dough and pastry or using a rolling pin and shape cutters
  • Drawing activities encouraging stabilisation of the page with one hand and drawing with the other. Placing paper on a slippery surface will remind the child to stabilise the page
  • Using a ruler to draw straight lines - this task can be made easier when the ruler has a handle or raised bar to assist with stability
  • Containers to fill and empty during bath times including bottles of water that cab be squeezed at targets using both hands

If you’ve tried all of these techniques and you’re still not seeing any improvement after three months, please do speak to your health visitor or GP.