Carla Grobler

Hand preference usually starts to develop by the age of 3 years.

Hand dominance should be fully intact by the age of 5 years 6 months old.  By now your child should use 1 hand, dominantly, for all of the tasks he performs.

If your child is still switching hands to perform tasks there might me an impairment with laterality and/or midline-crossing.

Poor laterality has a negative influence on bilateral integration (using the 2 sides of the body together to perform 1 task) and/or fine eye-hand coordination.

Approximately only 1% of the population is truly ambidextrous – in all the other cases impaired laterality is present thus a child ends up with 2 unskilled hands.

To determine if your child’s dominance is fully intact let him perform the following tasks and note which side he prefers.


  • Put pegs into a peg board
  • Switch on a light
  • Point to and object
  • Take an object out of a cupboard
  • Draw a line using an rules
  • Erase a line
  • Unlock a padlock
  • Open a door
  • Turn a key
  • Touch an object on a wall
  • Cut with a scissor
  • Catch a ball with 1 hand
  • Bounce a ball with 1 hand
  • Hold a telephone
  • Throw a ball using 1 hand
  • Write his name
  • Open the lid of a jar
  • Pick object off the floor
  • Use a knife and cut clay
  • Use tweezer and pick up small objects
  • Thread objects onto a shoelace


  • Kick a ball
  • Take your shoes off (which foot first)
  • Hop on 1 spot
  • Stand on 1 leg
  • Kick a ball into a target
  • Use your toe and point to an object on a wall


  • Look through a key hole
  • Close 1 eye with 1 hand (the open eye is the dominant eye)
  • Close 1 eye

If you observed that your child is still swapping his hands while doing activities and your child is in Gr. R, please take him to be evaluated by an occupational therapist. 

Carla Grobler, Occupational therapist,, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Liesel Brummer

Research has shown that play is a phenomenon found amongst children all over the world. Children can play on their own, play next to other children or be engaged in play with other children. Furthermore, play can also be an interaction that takes place between the child and an adult. Play is a spontaneous interaction between people. It is thus amazing to see how much learning can occur during play activities.

We are well aware of the importance of proper development during the first few years of a child’s life. According to the Canadian Council on Learning, the act of learning during the first five years of a child’s life has critical implications on their later wellbeing, their scholastic achievements, career performance and social interactions.

Taking this into consideration, play presents a platform for learning to the young child. Children gain new knowledge by exploring, discovering and experiencing the world around them. Learning takes place on multiple levels and this leads to optimal development. Play is, in other words, a spontaneous interaction among children that has immeasurable impact on the development of the child.

“How can opportunities be created for play in our busy everyday lives?” This is an important question we need to ask ourselves. “Why do we need to compromise to make play a part of the hectic routine of an average day?”

It is indeed a mind-set that has to be addressed. The emphasis should now be on an informal, relaxed and play-orientated approach rather than on formal learning situations.

In 2018 a publication by UNICEF emphasised the importance of play-orientated learning in the different developmental phases of the child:

  Birth to 2 years

(first 1000 days after birth)

Interactive and play-orientated stimulation where the focus lies on a safe, loving environment, can enhance neurological development in the child. Feeling loved and secure leads to positive social and emotional development within the child.
  3-5 years Play provides the child with opportunities to explore, experience and imitate. Development takes place on social, cognitive and emotional levels, and skills are developed unconsciously. Play occurs through interaction, roleplay (little girl takes on the role of Mommy), songs and rhymes, construction play and fantasy play to name but a few.
  6-8 years During this development phase, play-orientated learning is still of extreme importance. During this phase play is often replaced with formal learning situations, but it is important to remember that existing knowledge is strengthened through play activities. Problem solving skills, curiosity and hunger for knowledge are awakened in children through play.

The question that still remains, though, is how play can be made a part of our busy lives?

A child’s home environment serves as the first introduction to playing and learning. The interaction that takes place between the baby and its caregiver, serves as the first introduction to coping with emotions and relationships. It is in this way that a child learns that a reaction on his part, constitutes a counter reaction, for example a baby that cries when he is hungry or tired.

Games such as “peek-a-boo” exposes the child to object permanence, where they learn that an object still exists, even if it cannot be seen anymore. General daily activities such as setting the dinner table, can serve to establish the foundation for mathematical concepts when they have to count out the plates and cutlery. This activity can also enhance fine motor skills development as the child practises the skill to handle cutlery. Speech and language development takes place as the child and caregiver communicates. Furthermore, concepts such as floating and sinking can be taught in an informal way through playing with different toys during bath time.

Interaction between friends also provides the child with an inspiring environment where new knowledge can be tested. Social, emotional and cognitive development can be stimulated through role play, fantasy play and structured play. Play opportunities can be created by adults by providing the children with different media, such as wooden blocks for construction play. Through construction play, gross motor skills such as movement and midline crossing are developed. They are confronted with challenges to reach their goal, and this helps to enhance problem solving skills and creativity. It often happens that children should first be aware of the rules of a game before being allowed to join in the game. Often during the game the rules will change. The child should have the social skills to handle such changes and disagreements that may arise.

The abovementioned is only a few examples of how play opportunities can be created for the young child. There is no need for expensive toys, and parents can use whatever they have at their disposal, as long as they create opportunities for play.

It is obvious that play makes a notable difference in the development of the young child. It is important to adapt our mind-set from formal learning situations to play-orientated learning.

Isn’t it our goal to equip our children with confidence, positive social skills, creativity, problem-solving skills, emotional intelligence and the ability to experience the world around them in a critical way?

Let us create play opportunities that will enable each child to reach his full potential, and to face the future with confidence and become a well-balanced, confident adult.