Changing Colors: The Blog of Spectrum Pediatrics

December 30, 2013

Crossing Midline: Why It Is Important to Your Child’s Development

By: Lauren Civiello, M.S., CCC-SLP

The term ‘midline’ refers to the invisible line running from our brain to our feet, which separates the body’s right from left.  As an SLP, I have been educated by my colleagues on the benefits of crossing midline for increased attention and concentration skills.

picture of the planes of the body

The ability to cross our midline reflects the degree of ‘bilateral’ organization a child possesses.  Bilateral skills are important because it helps the right and left sides of our brains communicate. This link that allows both sides of the body to move together in coordination to perform a wide variety of everyday tasks such as reading, writing, crawling or riding a bike.Some children who have difficulty crossing their body’s midlines often struggle with reading, writing, and synchronizing their bodies’ fine and gross motor skills.  Often times, maintaining attention and concentrating can be a challenge due to lack of communication between both sides of the brain.

Your child may struggle to cross midline if:

  • Your child switches hands when writing, drawing, painting and coloring.
  • Your child reverses letters and numbers.
  • Your child finds it hard to form letters and numbers with a pen or pencil.
  • Your child writes on the left side of the paper with their left hand and on the right side of the paper with their right hand.
  • Your child uses different feet to kick a ball.
  • Your child has difficulty coordinating gross motor patterns (e.g. crawling, skipping, jumping jacks).
  • Your child has difficulties visually scanning from the dominant to the non-dominant side (e.g. reading information on a board).

Ways to help your child to cross midline:

These activities are a great way to develop your child’s bilateral abilities.  They can be included in daily routines at home or even incorporated into classroom activities at preschool or school.

  • Threading beads, cutting and pasting, folding paper
  • Placing finger puppets on one hand and encouraging your child to remove the puppets with the opposite hand
  • Banging blocks or percussion instruments together in their midline
  • Playing Twister
  • Playing Simon Says
  • Playing Animal Walks (e.g. crab crawl, frog jump, bunny hop)
  • Making streamer or ribbon circles and patterns in front of their midline (use two hands together or one in each hand)
  • Marching games using their arms and legs
  • Drawing or writing on a horizontal surface (e.g. chalk board, mirror, white board)
  • Placing stickers on one arm and encouraging your child to remove them with the opposite hand

As always with kids, be creative and keep it fun!  If your child continues to have difficulties with crossing the midline, don’t hesitate to seek help from an Occupational Therapist.


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