Enhancing Right-Left Discrimination Through Play

There is a high emphasis on building children’s handwriting skills at an early age in order to prepare for kindergarten expectations. This is a wonderful encouragement for your children!  There are multiple recommendations from occupational therapists on how this can be done, including building fine motor muscle strength, improving isolated finger movements, advancing graphic skills, girl pointing left handand practicing bilateral coordination tasks.  However, did you know what impact a knowledge of right-left discrimination can have on your child’s performance?

Typically, children have established hand dominance for pre-writing and drawing activities by four to five years of age.  Yet, their knowledge of right-left discrimination may still need some work.  Here are some fun ways you can help boost their knowledge of which side is which.

5 Activities To Teach Your Child Right and Left:

  1. Play “Hokey Pokey,” which utilizes fun auditory and visual cues to help the child identify the correct sided limb(s).
  2. Play a game of “Twister”, which also has a great impact on motor planning, isometric strengthening, and bilateral coordination. Visual and auditory cues are also helpful hints with this game.
  3. Maneuver through an obstacle course and focus on the concept of turning right or left.
  4. Practice connecting dots with left to right strokes. This task also addresses pre-writing skills, visual motor skills, pencil/marker grasp, and upper extremity control.
  5. When playing board games, if applicable, request of the child to use a particular hand to play his/her next move (i.e. When playing Connect 4 with your child, say “With your next chip, use your left hand to put it in the slot!”)

Play is a child’s primary occupation, and so we need to make all teaching efforts fun within the realm of play!

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