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Crossing the Midline - Why and How?

The midline is an (obviously invisible) line that runs down the center of our bodies from the top of the head down to the toes, loosely dividing left- and right-brain function. 

Recently, scientific research has strongly indicated that, in order to properly develop brain pathways, humans must have opportunity to do something called "crossing the midline," which involves physical movements of opposing parts of the body, or literally crossing over to the left side of the body with the right arm or leg, and vice versa. 

One of the earliest methods of crossing the midline humans display is learning to crawl, because as a baby's left arm lunges forward, his right legs does so simultaneously. Although some babies never learn to crawl, and move right to walking, scientists now believe crawling to be an integral piece of the development puzzle for teaching babes to cross the midline - many child development specialists will now even query parents about babies' crawling habits, and, if it was a step they skipped, will actually teach the child to crawl, regardless of age!

Why, then, do scientists now believe crossing the midline to be so important to a child's healthy physical and intellectual development? Children with an inability to cross their midlines (pick up a pencil on their right side with their left hand, for instance) can struggle with reading and writing, or participate in sports and other physical activities. 

And, as we learn more about crossing the midline, child development specialists have also discovered that there are many ways to help children (and even adults!) develop an ability to cross the midline, and exercise this function, which, theoretically, could help kids in other areas of intellectual development, as well. 

The following are some fun ways to teach your tot to cross on over to the other side:

• Wash windows together! Teach him to use his left hand to wipe the lower right corner of the window, or to reach up and wash as high as he can on his left side with his right hand. 

• Make an X with your arms, and then, wiggle your fingers, first on the left side, then on the right, and finally, at the same time.

• Play flashlight tag! Grab two flashlights, turn off the lights and lie in bed together. Have your tot "chase" your light on the ceiling with hers!

• In a widened stance, show your tot how to reach down and touch his left foot with his right hand, and then, his right foot with the left hand. 

• With your tot lying down, have her reach for objects like small balls, puzzles pieces or the like with the non-dominant hand on their dominant side. 

• Draw outside with sidwalk chalk, encouraging your toddler to reach as far as he can to the opposite side of his body with the chalk. 

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