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by Jennifer Petsche
There are so many skills and areas of development that children need to practice at an early age and progress with as they grow. Fine motor skills, bilateral coordination skills and visual discrimination are just a few of the essential areas parents and teachers need to ensure children exercise. There are many ways for children to develop these skills, but the key is for children to feel engaged and even to have some fun while honing these skills.
Lacing activities provide excellent hands-on play for this purpose. Children feel like they are playing with the colorful laces and cards, and they get a sense of accomplishment when they successfully lace through all of the holes!
What Lacing Teaches:
Pincer Grip. The simple act of holding a lace or plastic ball-tipped needle between the thumb and index finger helps a preschool-aged child develop her pincer grip. Developing the pincer grip is vital to future activities such as tying shoes and developing good penmanship. Learning to control their pincer grip will allow children to properly hold a pencil, crayon or paint brush when they draw and color, and eventually when they learn to write.
Eye/Hand Coordination. When a child holds a lace and fits it through a card, fabric or a peg, she is working on her hand/eye coordination. The coordinated control of eye movement and hand movement is vital for most activities children enjoy. When your child wants to play softball, build with blocks, play the flute, work on a computer and more, she will need developed hand/eye coordination to be successful.
Bilateral Coordination. Bilateral coordination skills, using both sides of the body simultaneously for different functions, is important for things such as tying shoes, typing, cutting food, doing crafts and more. When a child successfully laces, holding a lace in one hand and fabric or card in the other, they are working on their bilateral coordination, making their two hands work together toward a common goal.
Visual Discrimination. Whether her lacing activities include pegs and a pegboard or fun shapes and characters, a child will inevitably develop visual discrimination while lacing. She will begin to understand that there are differences in the shaped cards she is lacing—one looks like a heart, another is a circle or another may remind her of the family cat. She will understand that items can be similar or have aspects in common, but can be different. It’s important that she knows that, for example, while all cars are something to ride in, they can all look different. And, eventually, this will help her when she learns to read and write and distinguish differences between letters, such as “A” and “a.”
Lacing Activities to Try:
Lacing activities are abundant. Start with some simple shapes to lace, then move to dot-to-dot activities to add sequencing to your child’s skill set when they learn to start with hole #1 and then move to hole #2 and so on. Introduce your child to lacing puppets, allowing her to explore her imagination while developing important skills. Allow your child to practice her patterning skills, too, with a stringing peg set. She will enjoy creating a pattern on her pegboard using colorful pegs and laces, just like the pattern shown on the cards. It adds a whole new dimension to lacing!
Jennifer Petsche is an expert for Patch Products, which offers a wide range of lacing activities under the Lauri® brand, as well as high-quality, family-friendly toys, games and puzzles.