Crossing the Midline and Motor Development

What is crossing the body’s midline?

  • Imagine an invisible line down the middle of the body splitting it in right and left halves. This is the body’s midline. Crossing over the midline refers to any motor activities that require limbs from the left side of the body to reach across to the right side of the body or vice versa.

What is the importance of crossing over the midline?

  • Crossing the body’s midline is an important part of developing fine motor skills for children. This is because motor control of the body via the brain is separated into two hemispheres. The left brain hemisphere controls the right side of the body and the right hemisphere controls the left side of the body. Therefore, when getting children to practice crossing the midline, they are essentially (on a very basic level) getting the two sides of their brain to practice talking to each other.
  • Many movements in day to day life require crossing over the midline, such as reaching towards your foot to put on a shoe, writing, or hitting a ball with a bat.
  • Crossing the midline also plays a role in developing dominant handedness. “When your child spontaneously crosses the midline with the dominant hand, then the dominant hand is going to get the practice that it needs to develop good fine motor skills” (see source at bottom for quote). Developing dominance of hand early on can make learning to write a much easier process for a child.

Ways to develop crossing the midline skills include:

  • Bilateral integration skills (using both sides of the body at the same time)
  • Core stability
  • Hand dominance
  • Planning and sequencing (of motor actions)
  • Body awareness

Activities That Can Help Improve Crossing the Body’s Midline Include:

  • Crafts that involve fine motor skills like beading, cutting and pasting, folding paper
  • Finger puppets: placing finger puppets on one hand and removing them with the other
  • Twister! Yes, play twister
  • Stickers: placing stickers on one arm and removing them with the opposite hand

 

Source: http://www.childdevelopment.com.au/images/Resources/area_of_concern_pdfs/Crossing_the_bodys_midline.pdf

 

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