Hand-Over-Hand Assistance

Teachers love to help their students learn. I have seen teachers use hand-over-hand assistance when teaching children.There is a natural tendency to be drawn to physically lead a person through a movement to have them learn. I’ve seen teachers often provide this assistance with writing, using a scissor, and demonstrating to children how to zip up their coat.

When is Hand-Over-Hand Assistance Not Productive?

Something I have seen a great deal along my OT journey is when a teacher or caregiver places their hands over a child’s hands to have them experience the movement, and immediately the child will stop engaging their muscles and passively allow the adult to move their hands without fully understanding the their own body function in the movement.
It seems the child would learn through being passively moved through the movement, however, the best way for the child to learn through the use of hand-over-hand assistance is for the teacher to make sure the child is still actively using their muscles in the process.

How to Provide the Most Impactful Hand-Over-Hand Assistance

When you do offer physical assistance, make sure you feel their muscles are engaging and back off on your assistance as much as possible. Perhaps help at the wrist or the elbow while using a light grasp. Make sure the child is paying attention to the activity and the movement and is engaged in the learning. Don’t let the child “check out” of the process by letting go of their muscles and giving in to the movement. This method of support needs more attention and tweaking when working with children who are more tactfully defensive such as children with Autism. I do go into how to adjust your hand-over-hand assistance for tactfully defensive children in my day training, Sensory Processing: It Does Make Sense. 


Where Can You Get More Information on Impactful Hand-Over-Hand Assistance

I dive deeper into hand-over-hand assistance in my day training. If you are using hand-over-hand assistance with your students and you want to know the signs to look out for when a child’s muscles aren’t being engaged, plus, the steps to take when you back off your assistance, I highly encourage you to check out my training page, so you can see exactly what I train on and how you and your students can benefit from my solutions.

If you have any questions about my training or about hand-over-hand assistance, I would love to talk to you. Feel free to either post your questions in the comment section below or send me an email by clicking HERE.

Cyndi Elliott doing sensory training

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