Crossing the midline is very important to a child’s learning development. It’s a key element to helping children flourish and learn in the classroom as they get older.
Our ability to reach over our midline with our arms and legs to perform tasks on the opposite side of our body plays a huge role in our day-to-day functioning.
Helping your child cross the midline as they grow is very important for their brain’s development. Midline crossing activities are often tied to higher learning skills such as speech, language, handwriting, reading, tracking objects, math sequencing, sensory integration, body awareness and other important skills for critical thinking. It’s also important for helping children retain information, improves attention and focus and allows them to listen to the teacher as they give directions (auditory processing).
Crossing the midline helps the right and left sides of the brain work together. If we only work one side of the brain, the other side may become weaker, which could cause gaps in learning. Learning tools that come naturally for some children (organizing thoughts on paper, executive functioning, writing, comprehension and sitting still in a chair) may not come so easily to others who can’t cross their midline.
When a child crosses their midline, new connections are made between the right side and the left side of the brain, and both sides are then working together, rather than independently of each other. It integrates the two sides of the brain, and organizes the brain for better concentration and problem solving. This is needed for reading and writing, as well as sports activities and other daily skills.
What is Midline Crossing?
Crossing midline simply means that a child reaches across their body with either hand or foot. Think of it as if there is an imaginary vertical line down the center of the body. Crossing the midline would mean having the ability to reach over this imaginary line with an arm or leg, and perform a task on the opposite side of the body.
The ability to cross midline develops as bilateral coordination skills develop. The child learns to coordinate their stronger hand (used for specialized skill) with their helper hand (the hand that they use to assist the dominant hand).
Crossing the midline is a developmental ability that is important for so many gross motor tasks. When a child has difficulty with crossing their midline, they will demonstrate difficulty with fine motor skills, too.
Signs a Child can’t Cross their Midline
1. Appears ambidextrous. Children who have difficulty crossing the midline may use their right hand to perform tasks on the right side of their body, and their left hand to perform tasks on the left side of their body. They may seem ambidextrous, but what’s actually happening is that they aren’t properly developing the fine motor skills in their dominant hand. Instead, they are essentially developing average skills in both hands which can have significant implications in the long-run.
2. Has poor handwriting and often changes hands repeatedly while writing, drawing, colouring, etc. Handwriting may be more challenging, and their school work may be sloppy and messy.
3. Has difficulty performing basic life skills, like brushing teeth and hair, doing up buttons, zipping up zippers, putting on socks and shoes, etc.
4. Demonstrates poor gross motor skills. A child who can’t cross the midline will likely struggle with gross motor activities. For example, they may struggle to kick a ball with two feet instead of fine-tuning this skill with only their dominant foot.
5. Appears uncoordinated and struggles with more complex gross motor activities that require greater coordination, like jumping with a skip rope or doing jumping jacks.
6. Has difficulty with reading. Kids who can’t cross the midline may find it more difficult to visually track something from left to right, which can result in delayed reading skills.
For more information, and videos for activities to do at home with your child to improve midline crossing, check out Catrobatkidz ON TV