What exactly is crossing the midline? I’ve learned a lot about this from my Occupational Therapy colleagues. Think of the midline as an imaginary line that runs down the middle part of the body that divides the body into the right and left sides. Crossing the midline means that a child is able to reach across the middle of their body with their arms and/or legs and perform a task on the opposite side of their body. This skill usually becomes established around 3-4 years old. There are several everyday activities that you can do to work on crossing the midline.
Crossing The Midline
So why do we care so much about crossing the midline? Kids that struggle with crossing the midline may have difficulty with reading, writing, physical activities/sports, and self cares. Before this skill is developed young children will often use their right hand to do skills on the right side of their body and the left hand to do skills on the left side of the body. With the establishment of this skill kids are able to work on their opposite hand on their opposite side. For example, a child can use their right hand to perform a skill on their left side of their body. Think about how many times a day this takes place for you as an adult! That is why crossing the midline is so important!
Crossing The Midline Activities
There are some simple everyday crossing the midline activities that you can incorporate into your routine that are fun for the summer time!
Popping Bubbles – Blow bubbles on one side of the body and use the opposite hand to pop them. Watch so that the child doesn’t turn their entire body to compensate.
Washing The Car – Encourage one hand making big sweeping motions.
Shoveling Sand – This works well if you have the child shovel the sand from one side of the body and place it in a bucket on the opposite side of their body.
Driving Cars – Using sidewalk chalk draw a figure 8 pattern and have your child use one hand to drive their car along the figure 8.
Squirt Out That Figure 8 – Now that you are done driving have the child “clean” the figure 8 with their favorite water squirting toy
Painting The House– Not literally painting the house, but taking a new paint brush (I use the cheap ones) and letting the child paint the house with water. Use one hand and encourage big motions that allow for midline crossing. What kid isn’t going to love this activity?
Crossing The Midline Activities Summer Theme – In Action
My three year old is playing and practicing crossing the midline. He still has times that he will shift his body to avoid crossing the midline. A more stable pelvis may help with some of this (such as being seated). Through this play he is learing and getting opportunities!
Bonus Midline Crossing Activities
Trunk rotation is important in crossing the midline! If a child can’t rotate through their trunk and tends to move in a “stiff” manner this may result in moving the body as a whole unit that may affect midline crossing. Try out these yoga poses with rotation for free.
Worried about midline crossing? Speak with your child’s pediatrician or occupational therapist.
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