The following guest post is written by the amazing Devany LeDrew. Devany is a former Kindergarten who now shares adventures with her children–most often playing, learning, and remembering–on her blog Still Playing School. Check it out.
Our 10 month old son has been crawling for a few months so he’s already accomplished a pivotal achievement in learning to read and write.
Wait, what? A milestone in infancy is vital for literacy development? Yes, because crawling is one of the first ways that babies practice crossing their midline!
- Five Activities for Crossing the Midline (and Why It’s Important)
Let’s imagine an invisible line running down the human body separating the left side from the right called the midline. When my baby crawls, he uses opposite sides of his body simultaneously. When my preschooler physically uses her body to cross that divide (by using her right hand to reach something on the left side of her body, for example) she is crossing her midline.
In both of these scenarios my children are using movements which cause their brains to communicate across their corpus callosum. This thick cable of nerves allows their two brain hemispheres to communicate. The 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 some need occupational therapy to work on this task. There are creative, fun, and intentional ways to play while practicing crossing the midline!
Here are five to get you started!
1. Crawl, crawl, crawl
I encourage my preschooler to crawl with her baby brother by getting down on the floor to crawl myself! We build obstacle courses with pillows and soft toys to navigate while crawling.
2. Baby Cross Crawls
While you sing songs to your baby or child, intentionally touch his left foot to his right hand and vice versa. You can tap to the rhythm of the music or teach body part names in this way.
You can challenge your older child to touch her left knee with her right elbow and vice versa. This is trickier than it looks!
3. Wash Large Objects
My preschooler loves to help wash windows or our cars with special wipes or a sponge. I ask her to hold the tool with both hands wiping back and forth in large motions as she cleans so that she is crossing her midline frequently.
4. Dance, Sway, and Play with Ribbon Wands
You can create your own ribbon wands with a paint stirrer (or just hold a scarf in one hand for the same effect). Model how to cross the midline while dancing for your child by making figure eights and rainbow arcs with the ribbon. A great song to practice moving and grooving with is Shake Your Reader Ribbons by Pam Schiller
5. Play Passing Games
Challenge children to pass a ball from a friend on the left to a friend on the right by moving their arms but not turning their whole bodies. Friends may sit in a line or in a circle for this activity. For two children, have them sit back to back and pass the ball from the left side across their bellies and back over to the right.
For more from Devany LeDrew, please visit Still Playing School where she uses her background in early childhood to create a home based playful learning environment for her children. She is a former Kindergarten teacher who followed her passions to specialize in Educational Psychology & Literacy Education. She is the mother of three, grieving the loss of one. Follow Still Playing School on Facebook and Twitter.
Thank you, thank you, thank you, Devany, for sharing! I learned SO much from this piece!
Looking for more activities to promote fine and gross motor in your little loves?
Stop by and follow these great educational Pinterest boards, filled with indoor fun ideas to engage children in fun activities to promote the development of these foundational skills:
- Sensory Activities | D @ Still Playing School
- Preschool Activities | D @ Still Playing School
- Handprint Projects | D @ Still Playing School
- foundations | teachmama
- movin’ and groovin’ | teachmama