The Importance of Crossing the Midline

Thursday, April 15, 2021
My mom was an educator - I always thought she was before her time.  There were so many strategies and ideas that she embedded into her teaching that were new, innovative and greatly successful in her classrooms and enrichment centers she ran.

One of the things she talked about quite a bit with me was 'crossing the midline', she not only had us at a young age growing up involved in many fine motor activities but made sure we were crossing our midlines often. 

I can remember she let us bang pots and pans with wooden spoons.  Can you imagine the noise level in my home?!?  4 kids - 3 boys and I was the youngest...they finally got their girl. 💟💕

My house was wild growing up, lots of commotion and friends over, lots of fun but most importantly lots of love.

Back to the pots and pans - that is actually a GREAT way to get a little one to cross their midline.  Place the pots strategically so they have no choice but to cross their midline as they hit them.

Crossing the midline

I can also remember weaving pipe cleaners through metal strainers - yeah I'm a product of the 70's so we used those. 😂  Another great skill to build fine motor skills and again cross the midline.  

Other great ways to implement this is:

* a game of TWISTER

* playing patty cake and crossing while clapping someone else's hands.

* playing tennis

* playing piano

* playing SIMON SAYS

* stretching

* finger puppets - have them pull them off their hand by crossing over and using their opposite hand.

* tracing an infiniti loop

* kicking a ball ( soccer drills )

There are so many great ways to practice this all important skill....why is this so important- I thought you'd never ask!!

So, first let me explain what this even means:  

The midline is an imaginary line ( think equator ) although it is vertical not horizontal that divides the body between left and right.  Crossing the midline is the ability to reach across the middle of the body with the arms and legs.  


This isn't the best example as I'm not standing straight but you get the idea.

Crossing the Midline Advantages:

Crossing the midline helps the brain build pathways that are extremely important for various skills.  Crossing the midline builds bilateral coordination, the ability to use two hands together.  We use bilateral coordination for skills such as dressing, tying shoes, buttoning, handwriting, cutting and coloring to name a few.  

Crossing the Midline

This is needed for printing/handwriting, copying from the board in school, early tracking - left to right.  It also develops gross motor skills such as coordination and balance.  

Neurologically, the lack of crossing the midline could result in poor communication between the left and right hemispheres of the brain.  Although the hemispheres work in tandem , we typically have dominant traits that labels us as right brained or left brained based on the tasks we are good at accomplishing.  Any activity that involves the movement of crossing the midline actively engages your brain.  If not skilled in this children can have mental fatigue that's why doctors and educators feel it's so important.  Some studies have shown that children expend so much mental energy focusing on gross motor skills ( due to a lack of crossing the midline ) that it negatively impacts their attention and working memory.  

Sadly, this is a crucial skill to have in their repertoire so that later they can be successful with tasks in learning that require a strong working memory.

If you feel your child or student has issues with fine/gross motor skills and you notice they are not well versed in crossing their midline...trouble with buttons, using 2 hands at once, printing, etc.  you may want to contact your school's OT for further assistance and screening.

Hope this helps you identify the needs of your students ~~ 
happy teaching!


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