Playing out in your back garden with the kids, isn't just about having fun. You might not notice it but you have a garden loaded with occupational therapy opportunities, which can help improve your child's performance in sports and academically.
Bilateral coordination is required when you use both sides of the body at the same time. This can happen in three ways: * When both sides are doing the same thing at the same time, like when you roll out pastry with a rolling pin; * When both sides perform the same motion, but alternately, like when you are walking or riding a bike; * When both sides of the body are required to do different things, for example when you are buttering toast.
Bilateral coordination is required just about all the time, as there aren't many occasions when one half of your body is focused on a task, while the other half rests unoccupied.
Why It's Important
The best sportsman have excellent bilateral coordination. Your child may not have their sights set on a professional sporting career, but even so, their enjoyment of sport will be significantly enhanced if they are good at it. Developing skills such as bilateral coordination in separate activities goes along way towards improving your child's performance at any sport.
But it's not just out on the playing field that bilateral coordination is important, it's employed in the classroom too. Reading, writing, art and scissor-work all require both sides of the body to work in harmony together, so that brain power can be diverted to the work in progress.
Improving Bilateral Coordination At Home
The way to develop this skill is to use it and practice it. That means performing sets of repetitive movements that replicate the three scenarios described above: both sides working together; alternating; or making different movements. Repetitive exercise is boring, so it's better to integrate them into fun games you can play for a few minutes every day in your own back garden. Here are some ideas to get you started.
Both Sides Working Together: Using a swing; Throwing and catching a big ball with both hands; Jumping on a trampoline; Skipping if you jump with both feet together.
Each Side Making A Different Movement: Using a scooter; Tree rubbing, or rubbing a crayon on paper over any outdoor surface; During water play, holding a container in one hand, while using the other hand to pour water into it; Use large templates of pictures, shapes or letters, and colour them onto the patio or fence with chalk, as one hand needs to hold the stencil while the other uses the chalk stick.
These are just a few ideas to get you started. Now you know what bilateral coordination is and how it develops, you will be spotting it in every day play. Isn't it fascinating how fun and games helps children develop the skills need for independent living.