Our bodies have an imaginary line in the centre dividing us between left and right. Crossing midline is our ability to cross that line with our hands, arms and/or legs. This ability is an essential part of kids’ motor and cognitive development. It is closely related to several children’s daily activities and aspects of maturing such as self-care, handwriting, reading, tracking objects, sensory processing, body awareness, focus and attention. Therefore, it’s crucial that children have as many opportunities as possible to engage in activities that require crossing midline. Hence, it is important that children are provided with opportunities to participate in activities involving midline crossing, as the absence of such ability can lead to various difficulties.
When a child can effectively cross the midline, they can perform a variety of tasks using their dominant hand while the other hand is used as an assistant. For example, when we are writing, we use our dominant hand to hold the pencil whilst our other hand stabilises the paper. In addition to this, when we are able to efficiently cross midline, our sensory integration skills begin to develop through our motor, vestibular, proprioceptive and visual input.
Signs of challenges crossing midline include:
- Child swaps hands when executing a task, e.g., drawing.
- Child turns their body on the chair when writing.
- Child doesn’t have a dominant hand, e.g., use the right hand when picking something on the right and left hand when picking something on the left.
- When reaching across sideways, the child twists the body, avoiding crossing the midline.
- Difficulties visually tracking an object that goes from one side to the other, e.g., reading.
- Difficulties with pencil control.
- Swaps feet when kicking a ball.
- Difficulties with gross motor activities such as jumping, balancing, catching and throwing.
Some activities that might be impacted by the inability of crossing midline include:
- Child avoids activities with a pencil such as drawing, colouring or writing. Due to low interest in those activities, that difficulty can be easily misinterpreted as lack of focus on the task.
- Self-care activities including brushing teeth, brushing hair, getting dressed and undressed, putting shoes on, using a fork and knife, wiping yourself, etc.
- Difficulties with reading.
- Difficulties at cutting different shapes using scissors.
Activities that might help your child develop their crossing midline skills:
- Colouring or tracing underneath the table – stick a piece of paper to colour in under a table, the child lies down on the floor and colour it. The child won’t be able to move the body as freely and will have to cross the midline.
- Visual tracking books such as ‘I spy’ and ‘One of a kind’ – teach your child to move their finger along the page and follow his finger with his eyes. If possible, do it with the child lying down on the floor.
- Catch and throw a ball.
- Games using Rackets such as paddle ball, tennis or badminton.
- Jumping jacks.
- Rotate the body in a twisting motion.
- Bend the upper body side to side.
- Play hand-clapping games such as Patty Cake, Sailor, Miss Sue or Miss Mary Mack.
- Play Simon Says getting your child to touch the foot or knee, with the opposite hand or elbow.
- Threading beads.
- Get your child to try to draw an infinite symbol or follow the pattern with their finger.
- Erase a large Whiteboard.
- Kick a ball.
- Activities that the child has to reach a target with a ball or bean bag.
- Play Twister.
- Get the child to make big letters in the air while you try to guess it.
Activities to encourage your Toddlers to cross midline:
- While seated, hold one of your toddler’s hands gently, while getting him to reach an object with the other hand on the opposite side of his body.
- While seated bring an object to the top of their forehead or head, encouraging them to bring both hands to the head.
- While crawling or during tummy time
- Play with musical instruments such as drums, modelling crossing the midline.
- Play with blocks.
- Draw an infinite shape and get your toddles to drive a toy car on top of it.
If you have any concerns about your child’s ability to cross the midline, please reach out to us on firstname.lastname@example.org or call 02 99133823.