About Mid-Line Development
There is an imaginary line called the mid-line which runs down the centre of the human body and basically divides the body into the left and right sides. Nursery school aged children are at an age where the development and the practicing of the ability to cross the mid-line becomes an important developmental aspect.
To cross the body’s mid-line means that the child is able to reach across the mid-line and perform a task on the opposite side of the body, especially with the dominant hand.
Why is mid-line development important?
Crossing the body’s mid-line is an important developmental skill required for many everyday tasks. Writing, dressing, putting on shoes (these involve reaching) and the ability to swing a bat to hit a ball are all affected by the development of the mid-line.
Good fine motor skills by repeated consistent hand dominance is achieved by the crossing of the mid-line by the dominant hand.
Defining whether a child is predominantly right or left handed can be delayed in instances where ineffective mid-line skills are developed. This is because the childs’ true-handedness is not determined and they have two less skilled hands rather than one stronger hand which is more skilled. This is a mere example, but as you can imagine, when the child starts attending school, the ability to write could be adversely affected by this.
This also extends to reading, as the child would not have the coordination and skill to track from left to right effectively enough to follow text on a page.
Using both sides of the body at the same time (called bilateral integration), body awareness, planning and sequencing (eventually mathematics), hand dominance and core muscle stability are all affected positively when a child or persons mid-line is effectively developed.
What can be done to improve the ability to cross the body’s mid-line?
- Bilateral Integration Skills (using both sides of the body at the same time).
- Daily Life Skills: Incorporate some mid-line crossing activities into your daily life skills (eg set up socks and shoes for dressing on the wrong side of the body when the child is sitting so they are forced to cross the body’s mid-line to dress.
- Core Stability: Work on core stability and trunk rotation to encourage the physical movement of crossing the body’s mid-line.
How you can help in mid-line development with your child.
Activities such as threading beads, folding paper, cutting and sticking can be useful for developing mid-line skill(s). In addition to this marching games (swinging arms and legs a lot) and percussion using a tambourine or blocks being banged in their midline - can be very useful and fun to do with your child! If you are feeling more adventurous one could even play games like “Simon Says” or “Twister”.