The ability to cross midline is an essential part of child development. What is midline crossing? Midline crossing is when one side of the body crosses over the central line of the body and performs a task on the other side of the body. You can think of the midline as an imaginary line that runs down the center of the body from the top of the head to the toes. Crossing the midline can be done with your eyes, hands, arms, feet, or legs.
The left side of our brain controls the right side of the body. This side of the brain is responsible for tasks like speaking, writing, math, science, and using reasoning. The right side of the brain controls the left side of the body. This side of the brain is responsible for tasks such as creativity, imagination, intuition, music, and art. The ability to cross midline is very important for many of our daily tasks including climbing stairs, walking, dressing, typing, catching a ball and so much more. Midline crossing is also required for developing hand preference.
Difficulty with Midline Crossing
What you may notice if your child is struggling with midline crossing includes moving their paper to one side when writing or drawing or switching hands in the middle of fine motor activities. They may also struggle with catching a ball with both hands, hitting a ball with a bat, skipping, or kicking a ball. Additionally, they may have trouble with reading as our eyes need to be able to scan from the left to the right side of the page when reading text.
Activities to Try
These activities can be tried at home to encourage your child to cross the midline.
- Play gross motor games – Some games to try include playing t-ball, swimming, martial arts, tennis, and skipping.
- Cross Crawls – While standing, have your child touch their opposite hand or elbow to the opposite knee and then switch. Do this 20-30 times.
- Arts and Crafts – Activities such as coloring, drawing, threading, cutting, and folding can naturally prompt midline crossing. Try doing these activities on a vertical surface.
- Animal movements – Encourage your child to try to move like different animals. Some examples include crawling like a crab, hopping like a bunny, and standing like a flamingo.
- Transferring objects – Have your child transfer objects or toys from one side of the body to the other. Then repeat the activity going the opposite direction.
- Ball Toss – Have two targets set up, one to the left of the child and one to the right. Have your child sit crisscrossed and throw a ball to a target on the opposite side of their body. The right hand will throw to the target on the left and the left hand will throw to the target on the right. You can also try to gradually increase the angle of the throw by moving the targets.
- For Babies – Have them spend time on their tummy, exploring and playing. Which naturally encourages crossing the midline. Additionally, as they get older, encourage time crawling and pushing toys around. For children who skipped crawling, have them go back and practice crawling with proper coordination to the left and right sides of the body.