What is It? Why is it Important? What can You do to Encourage It?
What is Midline crossing?
Midline crossing is a developmental milestone that most child reach by the age of 4. It refers to a child’s ability to spontaneously reach across the imaginary midline or midsection of their body during play or “work time”. Once established, midline crossing is a good indicator that the both sides of the brain are well coordinated and communicating effectively with each other. Motorically, midline crossing involves: bilateral coordination, trunk rotation and adequate core strength. A deficit in any of these areas could cause a delay in the establishment of midline crossing.
Why is it Important?
Midline crossing is an important prerequisite, foundational skill necessary for the development of a variety of motor and cognitive learning tasks. Midline crossing is also an important step in the development of handedness . Once established, the child’s dominant hand, the “worker hand” to take over the major tasks, while the “helper hand” act as an assist. This allows the child’s dominant hand to get some much needed practice and skill refinement, which has a great impact on the child’s overall ability to complete fine motor tasks in an efficient and coordinated manner.
Activity Ideas to Promote Midline Crossing:
Bean Bag Toss!
Sitting “criss-cross” on the floor, have a child toss bean bags or koosh balls into a bucket positioned opposite side of the hand they are throwing with. Don’t allow hand switching but do practice crossing over both sides, giving each hand a turn and re-positioning the bucket to the opposite side.
Engage in sensory play with shaving cream. Using a large tray or cookie sheet, have the child place one hand on top of the other while moving the shaving cream in all directions. This could also be done while helping Mom or Dad wash the car!
On a large sheet of paper or chalkboard, draw a large figure 8, positioned horizontally. Have the child trace the 8 with chalk, small crayon, a small wet sponge cube or even a race car, being sure to watch that they are crossing midline as they circle back and forth around the track.
Stand in one spot and pop bubbles using only one hand. Try again and this time switch hands but use only one.
Ball Pass with a friend! Sit back to back with a friend, passing a ball back and forth to each other
Fun with Scooping! Position a small bowl of sand or dried beans to one side of child with an empty bowl on the opposite side. While seated, challenge them to transfer the beans from one bowl to another using a spoon or small cup, using only one hand at a time.
Use a lit flashlight to trace shapes, lines and figure-8’s on a wall in a dimly lit room. Practice holding flashlight with one hand, then holding with both hands while you trace.