Many young children between 2 and 5, especially children with low muscle tone or postural instability, will struggle with bilateral control. In preschool, one way to notice this is to see the paper sliding around the table while a child colors. The common response of teachers (and parents) is to tape the paper down. Oops! This eliminates any demand for both hands to work together. Bilateral control only develops if it is needed and practiced.
The better approach, the one that makes the brain work and builds a child’s skills, is to make it even more slippery while making the activity more fun.
Why? This child,’s brain, as described, needs more information about what is going wrong with the activity. You can use heavier paper, stickers in a book that need accurate placement, or fun glittery markers. Really, anything that makes a child care more about placing marks accurately. I select the smoothest table surface available. Glass coffee tables are a fave at home. The alternate choice is a bumpy surface, something that will be slightly uneven and make the paper move more with each stroke.
I have some older kids that really struggle but can use a visual cue. I make a mark on their paper and tell them to put their “helper hand” – the one not coloring- on this mark. This is sometimes helpful, but it is limiting the extent that this hand is providing optimal postural support.
Yup, support. The hand that holds the paper is also performing another function. It is stabilizing the child’s body so that the dominant hand can execute a skilled movement.
So….no more tape on that paper, OK?