Activities that utilize “cross-brain” functionality, where you are forced to use both the left and right sides of your body, activate your brain’s right and left sides to promote optimal balance and growth during a child’s critical developmental stages. It’s no mystery that children’s brains are rapidly developing, but they also change shape, structure, and size based on their experiences!
Doctors recommend certain activities that promote whole-brain function (especially for children with neurodevelopmental challenges, like ADHD, SPD, and Autism). There are a variety of activities out there for everyone to enjoy.
Place an imaginary line down the center of your body. Your brain is split into two separate hemispheres, and each half controls one side of the body. So, once you cross the midline of your body, the electrical impulses from your nervous system tell your brain to cross over and activate the other side of your body.
Below is a list of activities to help increase cross-brain function in children.
Cross-Brain Function Activities
Swimming is an excellent cross-brain activity for kids. It is an great way to engage both sides of the brain through cross-body movement. Because it’s also a cardiovascular activity , your child will be working hard and breathing more deeply than they would in other sports or physical activities.
Keep your child interested by adding fun swimming games like tag into the mix or tossing objects they can retrieve into the water. This is a great summer activity that can get your kids outside and move their arms and legs. Swimming is a great activity for increasing core strength as well.
Wrestling cross-brain exercises are quite similar to swimming cross-brain exercises because there is such heavy upper limb involvement. Remember to be gentle and keep it fun – you’re not trying to hurt your child or teach them to hurt others. The movements used in wrestling will use your child’s entire body and can help teach coordination, too.
Climbing cross-brain activities are great for building coordination, balance, and strength, and rock climbing is fun! Rock climbing is an intense activity that gets your heart pumping and forces you to use both sides of your body at the same time. Your child will work hard on their upper bodies while simultaneously flexing the lower limb muscles too. Ensure your child is safe and is using the proper equipment such as a safety harness and a spotter.
When thinking of cross-brain activities for kids, walking is a great and easy one! Not only does it get your child up and active and allow them to get some fresh air, but many children who struggle to run find that they can manage cross-lateral movements much easier with walking.
Add some difficulty and have them walk and then place their right elbow to their left knee. Or have them do the opposite, crossing the midline and tap their left hand to their right knee. So don’t underestimate this simple movement, and go for a walk together!
Karate is an activity where your child will use their whole body to do cross-brain activities. It is a great cross-body physical activity, as it works on balance and coordination while keeping your child active. If you’re worried about violence in karate classes – don’t be! Because karate is meant to teach peace, self-discipline, and self-defense in a positive environment.
Taekwondo is a martial art that develops balance, coordination, and strength. The cross-lateral movements work both sides of the body evenly, which helps the corpus callosum (the nerve tract connecting left side with right) become more fully developed.
Students learn to move their left hand, right hand, left foot & right foot in coordination with their eyes, thus developing better eye/hand coordination while improving posture through active breathing techniques.
Tennis is great for building physical coordination and cardiovascular strength. It is an intense activity that gets your heart pumping. Swinging a tennis racket exercises cross-body movements and, in turn, requires you to use the right and left hemispheres of the brain. When your legs cross to make a play or your arms cross the midline to reach for the tennis ball, your brain is working even harder to tell your body how to move.
This cross-brain activity for kids is a great one! Basketball forces your child to use both sides of their body simultaneously, which in turn helps them work on cross-body movement and exercises coordination skills that they can then transfer into everyday life situations.
Not only does basketball help with cross-body movements, but it is also a fantastic cardiovascular exercise too. Basketball has many movements that involve crossing the midline of the body and using your brain to make decisions at the same time.
Hiking is a full-body exercise that can also be categorized as a self-care activity to get the whole family involved. Left foot, then right foot: each movement of the legs and opposite sides involving your right arm and left arm get your whole brain thinking and get both the left and right side of the body moving.
Hiking is an activity that gets your child outside and involves their brain and nervous system acting as one to hike through the woods or up a mountain. Make sure to breathe fully and give the two hemispheres of your brain the oxygen it needs. Hiking is an excellent activity for younger children as well. The left and right hemispheres of your child’s brain will be working just as hard as their bodies.
By incorporating cross-brain activities into your child’s daily routine, you’ll be able to foster a healthier and happier life. You can start by introducing one of the great ideas that we’ve discussed today. For even more information on cross-brain activities, check out this post!
Chiropractic Care for Brain Connectivity!
Another way to help your child’s brain connectivity is to visit a pediatric chiropractor, like Dr. Eric of ADIO Chiropractic! He’s located in Madison, WI and works with families to meet their needs. Call to schedule a visit today!