With which hand do you write? With which hand do you hold a baseball glove? With which hand do you comb your hair? Hand dominance is established when either the right or left hemisphere of your brain becomes the dominant or ‘leader’ side.
This aids us as humans in determining how we will proceed to perform functional tasks, such as choosing which hand we use to throw a ball, brush our teeth, or hold a cup. Hand dominance should be established by the age of five in order for a child to function at his/her most efficient level with handwriting tasks, activities of daily living (ADLs), and overall coordination tasks.
The Importance of Developing a Dominant Hand:
Additionally, it is important for a child to develop a dominant hand so that he/she can learn how to efficiently perform tasks involving midline crossing and bilateral integration skills; one hand needs to act as a helper to the dominant hand. For example, when cutting a piece of paper, one hand must hold the paper while the other hand cuts with scissors. Overall, in order to develop skillful and proficient hand dexterity, coordination, and fine motor control, hand dominance needs to be established.
Here are some activities that parents can have their children do at home to help promote hand dominance:
Bilateral Coordination tasks:
- Push a toy car around a track; hold the car with one hand and the track with the other hand.
- Screw lids on and off jars or bottles, or assemble nuts and bolts.
- Thread beads on a string or use lacing cards with yarn or shoe laces.
- Use tracing paper or even color on small pieces of paper; the non-dominant hand is to stabilize the paper so that it doesn’t move.
- Play with play-dough and cut it into pieces with scissors.
Activities involving One Side of Your Body:
- Play ‘Keep It Up’ with a balloon: keep a balloon off the ground by hitting it up with only one hand.
- Play tennis with an age appropriate tennis racquet.
- Play darts, throwing with the dominant hand.
- Coin flipping: vertically line up a row of coins, and have the child flip the coins to the other side.
Midline Crossing tasks:
- Play with sand, scooping it from one side of your body and crossing over to pour it onto the other side.
- Play Twister, Hokey Pokey, or Simon Says.
- Play sorting games (i.e. card games).
- Make ‘figure 8’s’ in the sand, on a dry erase board, or with streamers