Ok, more than likely if you have read a little bit about child development you may have come across this concept of crossing the midline. (Don’t worry if you haven’t gotten to that chapter yet, keep reading!) Why is this such an important concept but not a skill we actively work on like walking or talking?Crossing the midline is super important for young children’s brain development because these types of movements use both sides of their brain’s hemispheres. When both sides of the brain are activated at the same time, more neural pathways are developed. This not only increases their intelligence, but it also helps with coordination. We use both sides of the brain doing everyday things such as reading this sentence, sweeping, driving, passing objects to people in the backseat, etc. For years, early childhood educators knew the importance of teaching how to cross the midline through games or activities. It was one of the reasons that you probably did a particular stretch in P.E. once upon a time. (Imagine standing with your feet slightly apart, arms out to your sides like vertical starfish, then moving your right hand down to touch to your left toe as your twisted your back. Sound familiar?)
Ever wonder why we use scarves every week in Zumbini?Besides the fun of peek-a-boo and the gorgeous colors added to our dances, scarves are a great way to help children cross the midline. You may have noticed that we do a lot of swaying back and forth with scarves, moving the hand holding the scarf side-to-side. You may have heard me say, “all the way across your belly.” Scarves are an easy way to help children cross them midline as they move this lightweight object while copying our moves.
Other ways we cross the midline in Zumbini include:
- The grapevine dance step (one leg crosses over the other as we walk sideways)
- Giving our selves a hug (both arms have to cross the midline as they wrap around themselves)
- Crawling (using opposite arm/opposite legs moving at the same time involves crossing the midline)
- Playing with instruments (picture your child picking up an instrument with one hand and passing this to the other hand)
- Clapping (need I say more?)