Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Tatty Bumpkin’s Elephant Yoga Pose – Encouraging your child to develop their 'crossing mid-line’ ability for writing and dressing skills

By Sue Heron – Training Co-ordinator Tatty Bumpkin and Paediatric Physiotherapist 

This week Tatty Bumpkin Yoga classes will be focusing on 'Elephant pose'
This active pose will encourage your child to stretch and bend their whole body and crucially to cross their mid-line.

What is the Mid-line?

Imagine a line running from the top of your head down the middle of your body – this is your mid-line’ 

Your child will have started to learn about the mid-line of their body as a baby. At around 3 months of age they may have brought their hands together in front of them to play and explore - so discovering their mid-line. 
At around 8 -10 months of age, your child would have gained more control of their body. As a result they may have started to twist their body in sitting or maybe to have moved into crawling - and as they did these movements they would have started to cross the mid-line of their body. 

Why is Crossing the Mid-line Important?

1. To do things – especially write! 

Think about the number of times you have crossed the mid-line of your body today. As you dressed you would have probably crossed your mid-line with either hand, as you reached for the cereal packet or the milk you may have crossed the mid-line of your body. 

A young child needs to be able to cross the of their body before they can establish a hand preference - to be right handed or left handed. Starting to use a preferred hand to pick up and hold things e.g. a spoon, means one hand will become more skilled - this will help make writing easier when it's time to learn this skill. 

If a child tries to avoid crossing their mid-line, they may continue to use either hand for tasks, this may make fine motor skills, especially pen skills, harder for them to do. 

One of the main factors affecting handwriting is having a specialised hand that does a good job of controlling the pencil.

Young children usually start to show a hand preference when they are about 2- 4 years old, however they may well be still swapping hands at this stage! Clear, constant hand preference is not usually established until about 4-6 years of age. 
Interestingly recent research has found that babies can start to show hand preference for grasping depending on what they are doing!
For example babies as young as 1 year old may prefer to use their right hand to pick up finger food, but will not use one hand consistently in play i.e. building blocks until they are much older – around 4 years of age - Sacrey L A et al (2012) 

Crossing the mid-line to eat!

2. To network the brain! 

The left and right sides of our brain communicate via a thick cord of nerve fibres which acts like a bridge connecting each side - the corpus callosum. 
As a child develops and learns new skills, each side of their brain gradually specialises. As a result, to complete complex movement or learning tasks, communication between each side of their brain becomes increasingly important. Crossing the mid-line may help to strengthen the nerve pathways within the corpus collosum and so to help the brain work as a whole.  

Tatty Bumpkin’s Elephant Yoga Activity

Swaying elephant trunks side to side!

Note to parents: Try to do elephant pose with your child, but do remember to look after your own body. If you have concerns about doing the pose always check with a health professional first and never continue with the pose if it is causing discomfort. 
  • Find a clear space on the carpet or a mat with your child. Make sure you have enough space around you both to bend and stretch and wave your arms. 
  • Take off your shoes and socks to prevent slips and to help your child feel the floor more accurately.  
  • Start Elephant pose standing up with your feet hip width apart – encourage your child to copy.
  • Do a few stomps with your feet on the mat to be heavy elephants! This is a great balance activity – the slower your child stomps the more they will be standing on one leg!  
  • Stretch one arm above your head holding your upper arm close to your cheek. This is your trunk! Bend forward from the waist keeping your arm in position so it’s now hanging down in front of you – like an elephant’s trunk.
  • Place your other arm behind your back – resting your hand on your lower back area.
  • Slowly start to sway your body from side to side and then wave your outstretched arm (trunk) side to side at the same time. Once again encourage your child to copy. 
  • As your child waves their arm and hand across their body they will be crossing their mid-line – without realising what they are doing
  • After a few sways side to side, straighten up and reach your arm up high above your head to trumpet like an elephant! 
  • Then swap over arms and repeat the pose. 
  • In elephant pose you can pretend to wash the ceiling or the floor! Remember to keep stomping…

Add in the Visual Sense

To make elephant pose more meaningful for your child, and to enhance their eye/hand co-ordination skills, give them a blue length of ribbon or streamer. Safety Note: Provide your child with a short streamer/ribbon (no longer than 30 cm) this means they can control it and are not in danger of tripping over it. Never leave a young child alone with the ribbon/streamer as they will be may tempted to investigate it further by putting it round their neck
  • Guide your child to hold the streamer in their outstretched hand and to wave it up and down and side to side like an elephant spraying water. 
  • You can also place a bowl or bucket in front of your child and encourage them to dangle their ribbon into the bucket to be an elephant sucking up water with their trunk!

Love Tatty Bumpkin x

Spring Forward with Tatty Bumpkin in 2016! 

Maybe, you are thinking of a new career which gives you:

  • The opportunity to work with kids
  • A great sense of job satisfaction and
  • Flexible working to fit around your own family

Find out how you could be trained to deliver Baby and Tatty Bumpkin classes in your area at http://www.tattybumpkin.com/business/index.html. 


Sacrey LA, Arnold B, Whishaw IQ, Gonzalez CL - Precocious hand use preference in reach-to-eat behavior versus manual construction in 1- to 5-year-old children. 2012. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23129422.