Here’s a challenge for you …. touch your right hand to your left toe … ready … set… go!
Well. That was easy, wasn’t it? Here’s an eye opener for you … ask your toddler to do the same task. Ready … set… go! How did that work out?
The “midline” is the imaginary line that vertically dissects your body. You might be surprised at just how important that little line actually is. Guess what it corresponds to? That’s right! The separation between the left and right hemispheres of your brain. That simple task of touching opposite hands to feet is quite the task for these little ones, as their hemispheres have not yet developed the ability to work together with ease. This, actually, will continue to be a work in progress for many years to come. Even as an adult, cross lateral movements reenergizes our brains and gets us ready to learn.
Why is this important?
A simple task such as passing a toy from one hand to another and crossing the midline in doing so is a beginning to teaching the brain to read left to right and across the left page to the right. If you have a child who skips the right page in their books while reading, ask them to draw a line horizontally across a long sheet of paper. There’s a good chance they may stop half way, as their brain has not yet learned this skill.
What can you do?
SO MUCH! This is where it gets good … all you have to do is play! Here are some wonderful activities to do with your child throughout the day …
- Start your day with stretching … swing your arms from side to side, swing them in front of you, cross them in front of your chest. Be creative! Anything that involves arms moving from one side to another is perfect!
- Double drums or bongos (make your own with empty oatmeal containers, wax paper and a rubber band!) … encourage them to bang the drums opposite of the hand they are using!
- Sorting games … place objects for them to sort on their left side, and organizing containers on their right, forcing them to move objects from left to right in front of them. Objects to sort? toy cars, pom poms, the list goes on.
- Streamers! Tie a piece of crepe paper, fabric, etc (be creative with what you have at home!) to the end of a dowel or other stick around the house … teach your toddler to make a figure eight in front of them. Arm over arm (meaning yours over theirs) is a great way to do this!
- Draw a large circle on a piece of paper and hang it in front of them. Show them to place stickers on the line, encouraging them to move their arms in a variety of positions mid-line to complete the task.
Brain research is relatively new in the field of education … surprising, eh? The articles available are limited, which means we have so much more to learn… but as of right now, what we do know, is that this is important and YOU can make a difference! Don’t worry about doing it “right” … “worry” about having another opportunity to play with your child and know that you ARE doing it “right” simply by caring!