Keep'er Fit

Gary Wallace

Crossing the mid-line key to child development

Last week I posted a video on my CORE NI social media page which had a very big reaction. It was about how crossing the mid-line helps with your child’s physical and brain development.

Before we delve into this a little further, let’s look at what crossing the midline is. The body’s mid-line is an imaginary line down the centre of the body, from the top of the head right down to the toes, that divides the body into left and right.

Crossing the body’s mid-line is the ability to reach across the middle of the body with your arms and legs. This allows children to cross over their body to perform a task on the opposite side of their body e.g. reaching across for a toy with their dominate hand, sitting criss-crossed on the floor or being able to draw a horizontal line across a page without having to switch hands in the middle.

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Most of these tasks seem very simple but without the development of crossing the midline some children will struggle with these and other everyday tasks.

When children cross the mid-line consistently with their dominant hand or foot they are developing fine motor skills needed to perform that movement.

If they are not crossing the middle line to perform these skills and using both hands for example, then this can delay their development with tasks such as writing, cutting out pieces of paper, swinging a bat, throwing a ball across their body etc.

When children cross the mid-line while performing these tasks they are engaging the right and left side of their brain to work together rather than two separate identities when they switch hands to perform the same task.

Building the foundation for midline crossing
This topic came about when my nephew Tom started walking from a very young age. It was an unreal achievement and rightly so everyone was loving it including Tom, but I did suggest that he was encouraged to crawl. When we crawl we use both sides of the body at the same time (bilateral movement/skill).

This helps engage the left and right side of the brain to work at the same time without crossing the midline.

It’s funny when I get adults to perform a bear crawl in the gym for the first time it takes a while for the brain to work out the movement pattern of left hand right foot and right hand left foot.

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Give it a go yourself!
Another building block is building their trunk stability (core).

This is where tummy time, getting kids to sit upright, crawling and letting kids play helps build a strong core to enable a child to reach across their body with stability, strength and develop their fine motors skills.

Through all of this comes body awareness. Letting children explore different movements, surfaces and environments while they play is key to them understanding their body.

Place them in situations like crawling in the garden, splashing around in the pool, playing in sand, climbing, jumping, falling or even wrestling with their family.

These activities will lay the foundations but also lend themselves to crossing the midline spontaneously, which is what we are aiming to do.

From here, get kids doing arts and crafts at home. The scribble which is meant to be mum and dad, keep them at it, but watch if they are crossing the midline or switching hands to draw on the other side of the page.

Even games like Simon Says or Copy Me, where you cross your own midline and get the kids to copy. When they get older playing sports which involve throwing, kicking and striking can help.

Better still, send them to a CORE Kids Fun Workout class (See below in advert for details or on the CORE NI Facebook page).

If you have concerns about your child’s development in this area, I would recommend that you consult with an occupational therapist. I’m not an expert on this but these guys are.

However, I would suggest that by keeping it simple and mostly fun, your child will develop at their own pace as long as you are placing them in an environment where they can learn and explore.

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