Many of the songs and rhymes used in a mainly music session have more benefit than just 'a fun time'. When children use their right hand over the left side of their body and the left hand over the right side of their body, they are simulating nerves within the brain. Children in reading recovery groups often struggle with these concepts.
Laterality is the term that refers to an important change in the brain that permits an 'internal awareness of the two sides of the body and their differences' (Newel Kephart). The brain is divided into two major hemispheres - the left and right hemisphere. Information comes to the brain from the body's sensory and motor systems, helping it to develop a 'picture' of the body - learning new tasks and learning what the body can do (that's why touch and movement are so important). The message pathways from the left side of the body cross over in the midbrain to the right side of the brain and the pathways from the right side of the body cross over to the left side of the brain.
So what can you do at home?
- Have some games where your child has to use their non-dominant hand to reach across their body to pick up an item.
- With a book on their knee, encourage your child to turn the page with the opposite hand so they are using their hand across the central line of their body.
- Ask your four year old or older child to hop on their non-dominant foot for ten hops.
- Help your child use the monkey bars at the park.
- Play marching around the house.
- Reward your child for crawling from the living room to the bedroom - as a bit of a game - even though your child is now walking.
- Have your child catch a ball in their non-dominant hand and throw it back.
- Make a game of having your child reach for something on the opposite side of their body.
Putting some time into your child's laterality is important for their on-going development, especially reading and writing. It's worth having a little bit of fun making this happen because your child will willingly get involved not realising their brain is growing and developing!