Crossing the midline is often confusing for OTR (Occupational Therapy Registered Nurses) because there are many different behaviors that are considered to cross at different ages in kids. It s one of the many sensory integration items that OTs seek when in working with young patients. Because it is a common skill to miss, it is an easy skill to miss. In fact, it is so subtle that sometimes, it can have a completely opposite effect on a child. But, when a child isn t crossing midline naturally within their play, it will definitely have an effect on how they process, develop, their fine motor function, and even their visual acuity! That is why many’s seek to cross the line when working with young patients.
Some of the many ways to teach this crossing midline skills include: putting children in a ring, having them circle, guiding them around a circle, and moving them into and out of various circles. When you put these behaviors together, you can see that it is quite simple to teach a young child the skill. The child must first reach across to the far side of the circle, then to the near side. After reaching across to the far side, the child should move his or her arms from side to side, like someone waving a flag. Children need to follow the flag motion in order to get the idea.
The basic idea is to take the child who is crossing midline and move her or him over to the right side of the imaginary line. Once they are over to the right side, the next step is to guide them over to the left side. Keep doing this until they reach the center of the imaginary line. This is another way to teach crossing midline skills.
Fine Motor Control: There are certain motions that can be used when crossing midline that are geared for increasing the child’s fine motor skills. The crossing motion is usually done in a circular motion with the right leg crossing the centerline. If there is room, the child can do three or four of these steps to improve their fine motor coordination.
Step on Up: The figure 8 maneuver is an exercise that strengthens both the arms and legs. It also develops self-esteem through the feeling of pride in being able to accomplish something difficult. The cross midline drill begins by guiding the child to stand on the large path in front of them. In order to do this, the child must grasp the large object (like a globe) with their non-dominant hand. Once the child stands on the large path, she or he must rotate their body from side to side.
Once the child is standing firmly on the large platform, the parent will guide the child’s arms and legs into a starting position. The children should be guided through the movements of rotating their bodies in order to achieve balance. The parent then positions their left hand on top of the left foot. The child should be guided through a controlled movement, where her left hand gradually moves towards the stomach until the left arm is over the heart. After this, the child should move her hands gradually to the right until her right hand is over her left eye and the left eye is above her right ear.
The child must move her hands quickly to the right until they are over her eyes and then to the left again. When crossing midline, it is important for the child to practice this movement over at least two trials before attempting it with full concentration. Another great sensory integration practice includes engaging both the left and right feet. Encourage your child to step into her running shoes (if she is not wearing one) and engage both feet at once. The more the child engages both feet at once, the easier it will be for her to keep her balance as she goes across.
The crossing midline is another important skill because it helps the child to develop fine motor movement and balance. This fine motor skill also helps children to release negative energy and stress. So teach this skill as soon as possible. Your child will enjoy being able to cross the midline and look forward to school and playground activities every day.