Have you ever heard the phrase, “crossing the midline”? Unless you are familiar with the way young children’s brains develop, it’s probably a new phrase for you. (And that’s ok!)
It is arguably one of the most important parts of a child’s development. It may be one of the most overlooked skills too. Why is this such an important concept but not a skill we actively help them to develop 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 the floor, driving, passing objects to people in the backseat, etc.
For years, early childhood educators and service providers 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 your teacher say, “all the way across your belly.” Scarves are an easy way to help children cross them midline as they move this lightweight object and copy 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?)
Zumbini is focused on giving young children and their caregivers a place to have fun, bond, and learn together through singing, dancing, and music play.
There are so many important concepts embedded in what we do each class, I hope this article has helped to shed some light on just one of them!