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Crossing the midline

What is crosssing the midline?

The midline is an imaginary line that divides the body in half. ‘Crossing the midline’ refers to a person’s ability to reach over this imaginary line with an arm or leg, and perform a task on the opposite side of their body.

It’s a bilateral skill which means that a person can spontaneously move one hand, foot, or eye into the space of the opposite body part. This happens when we :

  • sit cross-legged on the floor
  • scratch our elbow
  • read or write from left to righ
  • draw a horizontal line from one side of the paper to the other
  • connect intersecting lines to draw a cross without switching hands.

Crossing the midline is a coordinated movement.

What might happen when someone has difficulties crossing their midline?

They may:

  • have problems forming letters
  • appear ambidextrous
  • appears uncoordinated
  • have problems reading
  • have problems with with dressing, for example with buttons, zips, socks and shoelaces
  • have difficulty kicking a ball.

Activities to help support your child

Side bends

Ask your child to stand tall with their hands reaching for the sky. Get them to bend their torso to the right so their arms point in that direction. Return to the middle before bending to the left.

Hot potato

Ideal for a larger group of children. Ask the group sit in a circle and pass a ball with both hands quickly around the circle while you play some music. Once the music stops, the person holding the ‘potato’ is out. The game continues until only one person remains. Switch the direction that the kids pass the potato.

Figure of eight

Draw a large figure of eight on a chalkboard, piece of paper, or with chalk on the pavement. Ask your child stand/sit in the middle of the figure of eight and trace the shape using their finger, a pencil, or piece of chalk using their dominant hand. The figure of eight shape will force them to cross the midline while tracing.


Ask your child to stand tall, bend over at the waist and touch their left foot with their right hand. Return to a standing position and then repeat with the opposite hand and foot.


It’s heaps of fun, gets kids laughing, and is a great way for them to feel more comfortable with crossing their arms and legs over to the opposite sides of their bodies.

Household chores

They’re simple to setup and could include wiping down tabletops, washing the windows, and even washing the car. The idea is to get your child to use their dominant hand for these activities and make large sweeping motions.


Ask your child to lie flat on their back with their hands behind their head. Next, ask your child to bring their left elbow to their right knee before returning back to a lying position. Repeat on the opposite side.

Sorting on an exercise ball

Have your child lay down on his or her tummy, and ask him or her to sort items from one side to the other.

Simon says

Ask your child to stand tall,and lead them through different gross motor movements. For example:

‘Simon says touch your right hand to your left knee’,

‘Simon says do 3 jumping jacks’,

‘Simon says reach your hands over your head and then lean to the left.’

At some point throughout the game, provide a command without saying ‘Simon says.’ Whoever completes the movement is out.

Learn to dress boards

You can buy ‘learn to dress’ boards to help your child practice things like buttoning buttons, zipping and tying laces.