I’ve been hearing a lot lately about the idea of crossing the midline, or doing things with one hand (usually the dominant one) on the opposite side of the body. It’s not an element of Early Childhood Development with which I’m terribly familiar, so I decided to do some research and see if I could uncover some activities and Early Literacy tips to include in my Storytimes. What I found surprised me (particularly about myself!) and it got me to thinking about how I can incorporate these kinds of activities into my own daily life, as well.
So, what are the benefits of crossing the midline? For one, it gives the two hemispheres of the brain a chance to interact more than they normally might. If a child has trouble crossing the midline, there might be a disconnect between these hemispheres that would be beneficial to address early-on in their lives. Secondly, Crossing the midline with trunk rotation helps build core strength that will improve stability in a child’s movement. Additionally, children who cross the midline with their dominant hand will build more strength and fine motor skills in that hand: strength that will be necessary for writing.
How can we incorporate activities that cross the midline in Storytime? One idea is to draw shapes in the air with one hand and encourage children to start way over on the opposite side of the room to do so. This is a great time to educate caregivers on why we are crossing the midline and the benefits of doing so on a regular basis. Another way to incorporate this is to place blocks or rhythm sticks on one side of the children in Storytime and encourage them to pick them up and move them with the other hand. Movement activities like these not only get the brain working in different ways, but also help build strength in children’s bodies: both of which are enormously important to a child’s development and overall health.
What surprised me about me?? Well, I learned that the fact that I prefer to turn the paper sideways while writing on it was a compensatory mechanism that is often seen in children who didn’t cross the midline enough when they were young. I guess that means more Eagle pose (read: yoga) for me!
For more information on crossing the midline, check out this article.
And check out this great article for more midline crossing activities!