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September 2016: Back to School

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The beginning of a new school year is a great time to develop a new routine that incorporates both hands into simple tasks your child does every day. Here are some ways to encourage bilateral hand use both at home and at school:

Snacktime/Lunchtime

Ziploc Bag Image

  • Have your child hold their lunchbox by the handle or stabilize it against the table with his/her affected hand while opening and closing it. Lunchboxes with a Velcro closure will be easier to manage than those with a zipper. Some kids prefer to use their unaffected hand to hold the lunchbox. Add a zipper pull or keyring to make it easier for them to pull with their affected hand.
  • Use bags with larger, easy open tabs to pack snacks. Encourage your child to either hold the larger tab with their affected hand or stabilize the larger tab against the table with his/her fingers or fist while pulling the bag open with his/her unaffected hand.

  • If bags with easy open tabs are still difficult for your child, consider using bags with a slide closure. Encourage your child to stabilize the bag on the same side as the slider with his/her affected hand to open and close.
  • Encourage your child to use both hands to carry their lunch tray in the cafeteria. They can either hold the tray with both of their hands, or use their affected hand to provide support under the tray.

Doing Classwork or Homework

  • Make sure your child is always using his or her affected hand to hold their paper still while coloring or writing.
  • Encourage your child to use his/her affected hand to hold or stabilize markers or glue sticks while pulling off the cap. He/she can try the same method for twisting the cap off of glue bottles, but these may be more of a challenge, as they require more strength to stabilize.
  • Have your child use his/her affected hand to hold the paper still while they cut with scissors. If this is too hard, he/she may find it easier to use his/her hand or fist to hold or slightly turn the paper while it is lying flat on the table.
  • Ask your child to put their backpack on by placing his/her affected arm through the strap first and then wrapping it around. Have them take their unaffected arm out of the strap first when taking off the backpack.
     

If you have a topic or questions that you would like the Helping Hands blog to address, please email HelpingHands@kennedykrieger.org.

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