Imagine that you have a line down the middle of your body from the top of your head and down through your trunk. Crossing midline is one’s ability to reach across the centre of the body with their arms and legs crossing over to the opposite side. This is a very important developmental skill that takes time for children to develop. It is a pertinent skill required for reading and writing, completing self care tasks, as well as for many sports. The ability to cross the midline is important on the physical level as well as one the brain level. On the brain level, a lack of midline crossing may indicate that the left and right sides of the brain are not communicating well together.

What are the symptoms of difficulties? You may see children switch hands when drawing and cutting. If a child is avoiding crossing midline, it will be difficult for them to establish hand dominance, which will ultimately affect the progression of their fine motor development. Children that have difficulty understanding how to sit cross-legged and seem oblivious to their limbs usually have difficulty with midline crossing.

Toddlers will first develop their bilateral coordination skills; the two sides of the body will learn to work together at the same time to complete a task. A child will then progress to using one hand as their dominant hand while the other hand is used as a “helper hand”. This development occurs at different speeds with individual children, but a dominant hand should be emerging by the end of the third year.

Here at Think Sun we use rhythm scarves and ribbons crossing the midline with music. Dancing and swinging arms in diagonal, up, back, sideways to music helps children to become aware of their arms and legs. Bean bag tossing games, Simon Says are all games we play at pre-school. We also use paint to develop fine motor skills, eye-hand coordination, tri-pod grasp and yes crossing midline skills.

Play with blocks stacking them
Using a washcloth to bathe
Household chores such as dusting, wiping tables, sweeping
Playing patty cake
Playing with cars on a large path
Playing with flashlights
Painting with a large paint roller (use water on your fence or sidewalk)
Draw a large figure 8 on a chalk board or sidewalk and have them drive cars on it
Watering flowers using both hands
Ball passing from side to side.
Encourage independent dressing and self-care such as combing hair, brushing teeth etc.

Child Development

Your Three Year Old Child
Did you know that your three year old child should be able to dress her/himself? Why are you still doing it? If you think your child is too young, if not now, when?

Dressing skills are critical for hardwiring your child’s brain. It encourages balance, increases hand strength in preparation for printing, enhances eye hand coordination in preparation for reading and a host of independent problem solving skills.

Start by having your child choose what to wear within reason. Encourage your child to at least try to put on his/her own clothes. Allow time for this. If you are constantly in a hurry and simply dressing your child to get out the door, try to get started earlier. Your child needs time to develop skills. Shoes and boots need time as well. Your child should be able to manage her/his own shoes independently by the age of 3.

Remember, your child is only a year and a half away from kindergarten. She/he is going to need all these skills and more at school.