Did you know, that when your child began to crawl, they have accomplished a pivotal achievement in learning to read and write? It seems like an odd connection, crawling and literacy development, but they are very much connected.
This is called “crossing the midline”. The ‘midline’ is the imaginary line that runs from our head to our toes, and divides our bodies in two equal halves. Having the bilateral skills involved in crossing this line is important so that both the right and left sides of the brain can communicate. This practice is vital for higher-level skills like reading and writing. By moving in new ways, we build and strengthen new pathways in the brain.
Most children will naturally learn to cross their midline as they grow, but there are fun, creative, and intentional ways to play while practicing crossing the midline.
- Encourage crawling. Set up obstacles for them to crawl over, under, or through.
- While you sing to your child, intentionally touch his left foot to his right hand, and vice versa. Or, have them copy you, as you touch your left elbow to your right knee (this can be challenging).
- Dance, sway, and play with ribbon wands or scarves. Model how to cross the midline while dancing by making figure eights and rainbow arcs with the ribbon.
- Play Simon Says or Twister.
- Animal walk like a crab, bear, or big stomping dinosaur.
- Bang blocks or percussion instruments together in your midline.
- Thread beads, and cut, paste, and fold paper.
- Practice drawing or writing on a horizontal surface such as a chalkboard or whiteboard.
- Use puppets. Have your child put the puppet on one hand and tickle, pet, or pat the puppet with the other hand.
Be creative and keep it fun!