What side are you on? I mean, when it comes to your brain.
You have probably heard that most of us fall into right ot left side dominant when it comes to our brain.
Left siders tend to be more logical verbal and analytical. Right siders tend to be more creative, holistic thinkers.
This is beautifully illustrated in a talk by Jill Bolte, a brain scientist from the USA, who was in the unusual position of being able to study her own brain from the inside out when she suffered a massive stroke in 1996. Dr Bolte dramatically describes the very different roles of the hemispheres as the left and right sides of her brain existed in isolation. I highly recommend you watch the talk here
However, to function properly the two hemispheres of our brains need to ‘talk’ to one another so we can function. This is done through the corpus callosum, a thick bundle of nerve fibres that connects and communicates between both sides of our brain. The more often the right and left hemispheres talk to one another the more effective the corpus callosum becomes at transporting these signals (as process called myelination).
To improve the communication between hemispheres we need to look at mid-lines.
The mid-line is an imaginary line running down the centre of the body. Crossing the mid-line involves the ability to reach across the body with the arms and legs crossing over to the opposite side (e.g. sitting cross legged on the floor, writing across the whole page without the need to switch hands).
Children who have problems crossing the mid-lines may also have trouble with everyday tasks such as writing, getting dressed, and throwing and catching.
But what can we do to help children develop their mid-lines?
Crawling:- Crawling is a very important developmental milestone and an early chance to develop laterality (limbs moving in opposition to one another). For many children,particularly those with dyslexia, the crawling stage is ‘skipped’ thus missing out on an important stage in brain development. Getting children to crawl with an opposite arm to foot action can be an effective way to develop mid-lines.
Core stability:- This is essential for mid-line development as it assists with rotation of the trunk. Children with poor core stability tend to move quite stiffly and as a result find it difficult to cross their mid-line. Crab walking, planks and monkey bars are all excellent ways to develop a strong core.
Balloon, ball and beanbag activities:- Simple games with balls and beanbags can be adapted to help children cross the mid-line. If children kneel or sit to stabilise their hips then balloons, balls and beanbags can be thrown for them to catch across their mid-lines
This is yet another reason why PE and physical activity are so important to children and why many academic issues can be a symptom of an underlying physical issues.