Column B

Midline crossing exercises help the brain to talk to itself… literally.  Repeated traversing of the corpus callosum paves this rural path into a superhighway.

When devising exercises to meet this goal, imagine stabilizing the hips so the right upper body reaches into the left body space and the left upper body reaches into the right.  Of course, to make this meaningful, the head has to follow suit.  This often happens naturally if you incorporate a verbal cue with a visual target.

For instance:

  • Pivot Pass.  This is a paired activity.  Students stand back to back so their heels, butts and shoulders are initially touching.  Then, using a large book or object (i.e. something that must be held with 2 hands), the first student turns right to pass it to the student behind him.  The second student must take it with two hands, rotate and then pass it back to the first student using both hands.  In brief, both hands must be used in order to get full trunk, neck and head rotation.  Reverse directions.  Pass left, turn right.  Repeat several times in both directions.  Increase the speed.
  • Good job, chair!  Staying seated with both feet firmly on the floor in front, each student turns his body to pat the back of the chair on the opposite side, behind his shoulder.  Congratulate your chair on the other side, too.  Repeat 10 X.  It’s important to insist on patting the chair rather than their own shoulder to promote maximum rotation.  Encourage the students to look at the chair, while they are at it.
  • Wallet check.  Like Good job, Chair!, this is a seated activity.  Make sure children have their feet flat on the floor before starting.  Direct students to imagine having a wallet in their back pocket.  Using the opposite hand, children turn their bodies fully so their right hand can pat their left buttock and their left hand can pat their right one.  Cue the children to say, “Wallet?  Check!” each time they pat.  Once again, remind them to look at their ‘wallet.’  After all, you don’t want to lose it!
  • Star bends.  Stand like a 5-pointed star.  Both arms are out to the sides.  Both legs are apart, wider than the hips.  With the right hand, bend to touch the left foot.  Return to your upright star formation.  With the left hand, bend to touch the right foot.  Repeat these movements 10 times in each direction.  Remember… You are a star!
  • Pretzel.  Known by different names around the country, you may already do this one.  Each child stands by their desk.  Instruct them to reach their arms straight out in front, crossing the right over the left.  Turn the palms toward each other, then clasp them together.  Fold the arms back into the body.  Next, cross the right foot over the left.  Count to 10.  Close your eyes and count backwards from 10 to 0.  DO NOT UNFOLD right away.  Instead, uncross your feet and cross the left over the right.  Unfold your arms slowly.  Noting which arm is on top, now place the other arm on top.  Clasp the hands together and fold back into the body.  Count to 10 with eyes opened and in reverse with eyes closed.
Add these exercises to your Chinese Menu.  Model them for your teachers.  Help them identify logical times during their lessons to do so.  They’ll soon see that it is easy to insert worthwhile movement breaks into the day.  After all, these exercises only take a minute each.  But they are compounded experiences.
Optimizing interhemispheric communication can be elementary.  Maximizing attention may start with choosing one from Column A and one from Column B.