Crossing the Midline in Montessori
As your child develops, her brain is rapidly forming. Children require lots of sleep to process the immense amount of information the brain has absorbed. The midline is an invisible line that begins between the two hemispheres of the brain. When educators and physicians discuss “Crossing the Midline,” they are referring to any tasks that require bilateral movement- from reading across a page to swimming, alternating arms and legs while moving through the water.
Children with a strong ability to cross the midline of their bodies have a stronger abdominal core. They read with ease with their eyes tracking words from left to right without even thinking about it. These children are able to connect their opposite elbows and knees in a smooth, easy motion. They can throw a ball stepping with their left foot and then throwing across their bodies with their right arm. Academically, they tend to have a strong endurance to maintain learning postures and attend to new information for longer periods of time.
Montessori education has midline-crossing activities built into the delivery of the curriculum. At the toddler level, children are able to transfer materials from container to container through pouring, spooning and using tongs. Each time the child practices this skill, it becomes more solid in their development. In addition to strengthening the child’s small wrist, hand and finger muscles, these exercises are enhancing their brain/body connection.
Often times, children in traditional educational settings are confined to a desk for work completion. The worksheets they are given allow them to work right at the midline, without a need for bilateral movement. In an Elementary Montessori classroom, floor work is done on a rug that extends beyond the child’s body to the left and the right. The child must continually cross the midline to complete the work. The Montessori child is constantly refining his brain’s ability to connect with the body.
Maria Montessori was again, so far ahead in the area of cognitive developmental research in children. Every work that the child completes, from toddlerhood to adolescence has so many layers of purpose. Crossing the midline is practiced throughout each student’s unique educational experience. The benefits of this continued rehearsal extend to the child’s physical, social-emotional, and academic self.
Lauren Tracy is the Student Service Coordinator at West Side Montessori and holds a Masters Degree in Curriculum and Instruction. Lauren is passionate about early intervention and helping children reach their full potential.
West Side Montessori is an independent, accredited Montessori school educating children 13 months through 8th grade (preschool, kindergarten, elementary and middle school) with locations at 13587 Roachton Rd in Perrysburg, Ohio, and 7115 W. Bancroft Street in Toledo, Ohio.