Developing Midline Crossing
At Cooee Speech Pathology, our Brisbane north Occupational Therapists work with kids and their families to help children learn to be able to cross their midline.
First of all, what does it mean when someone is ‘able to cross their midline’?
Imagine a line that starts from the top of your head and goes straight down to the point between your two feet.
This imaginary line divides the body into left and right halves and is known as our midline. Crossing our midline is when we reach across the middle of our body with our arms and legs.
This allows children to be able to cross over their body to perform a task on the opposite side of their body. For example, being able to draw a horizontal line across a page without needing to switch hands in the middle.
Why is this skill so important?
Crossing the midline is an important developmental skill that is needed for many of the tasks we do day to day including academic tasks such as reading and writing, fine and gross motor tasks, and self-care tasks such as reaching down to put on socks. Midline activities are also important to help coordinate two sides of the body together (bilateral integration) and encourage communication between the left and right sides of the brain.
When a child crosses their midline with their dominant hand, that hand gets the practice needed to develop their fine motor skills by consistent and repetitive practice. When a child avoids crossing their midline, both hands will receive equal practice and development of a dominant hand may be delayed. This can then lead to academic and self-care tasks being more difficult to complete.
What can parents look out for?
If a child has difficulty crossing the midline they might often compensate or avoid crossing their midline.
This might look like:
- Switching hands mid-way through a task such as when they are drawing, writing or colouring.
- Using the left hand for activities on the left side of the body and right hand for activities on the right hand side.
- Rotating their trunk instead of reaching across their body for objects on the opposite side.
- Having difficulty visually tracking an object from one side of the body to the other.
- Having difficulty coordinating gross motor movements. For example, star jumps, skipping, and crawling.
- Difficulty performing age-appropriate self-care tasks independently.
- Becoming angry or frustrated when engaging in fine motor activities due to less refined hand skills.
What activities can I do at home to help promote midline crossing?
Activities that can be completed at home to encourage your little one to cross their midline include:
- Playing Simon Says or Twister and building in midline crossing opportunities. For example, ‘Simon Says to put your right hand on your left knee’.
- Popping bubbles with one hand (reaching across their body to pop the bubble on the other side).
- Playing with blocks and percussion instruments and getting your little one to bang them together in their midline.
- Playing bat or ball games such as baseball, cricket, soccer/football and tennis.
- Incorporating midline crossing into everyday activities. For example, wiping a table, rubbing out activities on the whiteboard, placing their socks on the other side of their body.
- Encouraging your child to practice activities that also develop their bilateral integration skills such as catching a ball, threading beads, jumping, skipping and cutting with scissors.
If you have any concerns about your child’s ability to cross their midline or complete other daily tasks, please do not hesitate to contact our lovely client care team on 3265 4495 or chat to one of our occupational therapists via our website.