Crossing Midline

Ryder doing activity to encourage crossing his midline.

Crossing the body’s midline is the ability for a child to reach across the middle of their body with arms and legs. This allows children to cross over their body to perform tasks on the opposite side of their body.

Crossing midline is an essential developmental skill needed for lots of everyday activities including dressing, writing and other tasks that require the use of two hands. Being able to cross the midline will help students to develop skills in these areas like being able to dress themselves. If a student avoids crossing midline, then both hands tend to get equal practice developing and often can lead to a child’s true handedness being delayed.

This can lead to delay in handwriting skills particularly with handwriting. Avoiding can also make it difficult to visually track an object moving from one side to the other or from left to right, making reading challenging which can lead to delayed reading skills.

What activities can help improve crossing the body’s mid-line?

  • Craft: Threading beads, cutting and pasting, folding paper.
  • Finger Puppets: Placing finger puppets on one hand and encouraging the child to remove the puppets with the opposite hand.
  • Blocks and Percussion: Getting the child to bang blocks or percussion instruments together in their mid-line.
  • Twister: Playing ‘Twister’.Simon Says: Playing ‘Simon Says’.
  • Streamers: Getting the child to make streamers or ribbon circles and patterns in front of their mid-line (use two hands together or one in each hand).
  • Marching games using their arms and legs.
  • Stickers: Placing stickers on one arm and encouraging the child to remove them with the opposite hand.

How can I tell if my child is having issue crossing midline?

  • Swap hands midway through a task like writing, drawing or colouring.
  • Use the left hand for activities on the left side and right hand for activities on the right side.
  • Rotate their trunk to the opposite side when reaching across the body (to avoid crossing)
  • Have difficulty visually tracking an object from one side of the body to the other.
  • Have poor pencil skills.
  • Use different feet to kick a ball (mixed dominance).
  • Have difficulty coordinating gross motor patterns (e.g. crawling, skipping, star-jumps)
Courtney, our Occupational Therapist assessing Ryder’s ability to cross midline