Getting your child to cross one side of their body to the other side is a development step that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Here’s why.
We have all heard the term left or right brain being used to describe a person’s abilities. This is a basic description of how the two parts of your brain are responsible for certain things. During early childhood, the two halves of your child’s brain have to learn to communicate with each other. This is where crossing the midline comes in.
While the brain is divided into two, so is your child’s body. Imagine a line running straight down the middle of their body. In the very early years, these halves often work independently from each other. You may notice your child using their left hand to grab a toy that sits to the left of them, and the right hand to grab a toy sitting to the right. At this age they have not yet learnt to use their right arm to cross over their body to retrieve a toy on their left. The crossing over of the limbs is a sign that your child’s brain is starting to work as a whole.
The ability to cross their midline is something that is needed for reading and writing (this is the mental crossing), and for achieving self-care tasks as they get older (tying shoe laces, doing up buttons and zips etc), as well as taking part in sports.
At toddler age, your child will be developing their bilateral coordination skills, which allows both sides of their body and mind to work together. Once your child starts to use a dominant hand, crossing their midline will be essential. There are a few things you can do with your child to help them cross their midline:
- Building blocks are a great way to get your child to use both hands to work together to build something
- Pushing a toy car around them allows their hand to cross over their body
- When passing something to your child, try to get them to take it with the opposite hand to the side you are passing from.
- Colouring in (or even scribbling) will assist your child to use back and forth movements that gets the brain to work together.
- Get your child to brush their own teeth (maybe give it their teeth a good scrub first) – the back and forth motion helps their body and mind cross the midline.
- Blow bubbles with your child and get them to pop them with only one hand.
- Beating on a drum or playing a toy xylophone using two hands develops bilateral coordination. Purchase one from our online shop.
There are tailored activities that involve exercise, dance, music and play that focus on getting children to cross their midline. During a Toptots class, these activities are used in a fun way, ensuring that your child is getting the correct stimulation to help them achieve this important goal.
Toptots Early Learning SA