Red rover, red rover, send your right hand over (to your left side)!
Gross motor movements are essential to growth. Because it works those large muscles, children develop spatial awareness, helping them figure out where they fit in the world physically.
One essential component to those large motor exercises is crossing the midline. This is when one part of your body crosses from the left or right side to the other.
Children need to practice this because it helps with coordination and working both sides of the brain. If a child has difficulties with this skill, they will have a hard time reading a line or writing a sentence across a page when they start school.
Here are some ways to work on this skill at home:
- Kid Senseopens a new window says to place a pair of shoes for your child, but place them on the wrong sides (left shoe on the right).
- Using a vertical surface to draw on, ask your child to make a horizontal figure 8. OT Mom Learning Activitiesopens a new window says using one hand to draw will force your child to cross the midline. If they try to switch hands, ask them to place their non-dominant hand flat on the floor or wall.
- Yoga! Many yoga positions require practitioners to cross the midline. There are also several poses to help strengthen your child's core muscles. Try these poses from Pink Oatmealopens a new window.
- Growing Hands-On Kidsopens a new window suggests handing your child a cloth and let them wash the windows. Your windows will never be cleaner (maybe, I can't actually guarantee that).
- Hand-clapping games with their favorite person (you!). Cornerstone Confessionsopens a new window has a list of six games for beginning hand clappers.
How can you tell if your child is having midline issues? According to Kid Senseopens a new window, look for a child who swaps hands while completing a task, rotates their body instead of reaching across, has a hard time skipping or crawling (for older children) or has a hard time tracking a moving object with their eyes when it crosses their midline.
If you're concerned about your child's development, reach out to their doctor for more advice.