Movement as a Foundation for Literacy

Movement as a Foundation for Literacy I

The significance of movement and its impact on a child’s development cannot be underestimated.

Proprioception, the ability to sense and understand one’s body position in space, lays the groundwork for pre-literacy skills. While some children naturally develop proprioception through play and movement, others may benefit from additional activities to enhance this vital skill.

“Crossing the midline” promotes effective communication between the brain hemispheres when a limb crosses from one side of the body to the other. This coordination is essential for successful reading and writing, as both skills involve tracking from one side of the page to the other. 

Proprioceptive Activities for Enhanced Pre-Literacy Skills:

  1. Pushing: Encourage children to push objects of varying weights, such as a toy cart or a small box. This activity builds upper body strength and develops spatial awareness.

  2. Pulling: Engage children in pulling activities like tugging a rope or using resistance bands. These actions strengthen muscles and promote a better understanding of force and direction.

  3. Lifting: Encourage children to lift objects of different sizes and shapes. This activity enhances their fine motor skills, grip strength, and spatial perception.

  4. Swinging: Swings offer an excellent opportunity for children to experience a range of movements and develop their balance and coordination. The back-and-forth motion stimulates the vestibular system, contributing to spatial awareness.

  5. Climbing: Provide safe climbing structures where children can explore and navigate various surfaces. Climbing helps develop strength, agility, and a better understanding of body control in different positions.

  6. Jumping: Encourage jumping activities, such as hopping on one foot or jumping over obstacles. These exercises improve motor coordination, balance, and overall body awareness.

Crossing the Midline Activities to Foster Brain Communication:

  1. Clapping Games: Engage children in interactive clapping games that involve crossing their arms and hands over the midline. This activity encourages bilateral coordination and stimulates both hemispheres of the brain.

  2. Crawling: Encourage crawling movements that involve crossing the midline. Activities like army crawling or crawling through tunnels help strengthen the connection between the brain hemispheres.

  3. Beanbag Passing Games: Engage children in games where they pass beanbags from one hand to the other, crossing their midline in the process. This activity enhances coordination and strengthens the neural pathways between the brain’s two sides.

  4. Drawing Huge Figure Eights: Encourage children to draw large figure eights on paper or in the air. This activity promotes midline crossing and fine motor control, which are essential for writing skills.

  5. Sidewalk Chalk Drawings: Provide ample opportunities for children to draw and create artwork using sidewalk chalk. This activity involves reaching across the midline and helps develop hand-eye coordination.

  6. Waldorf Kindergarten Circles: Engage children in activities inspired by Waldorf education, such as circle time or movement-based games that involve crossing the midline. These activities encourage whole-body movement and stimulate brain communication.

  7. Adult-led Simon Says: Play the classic game of Simon Says, incorporating movements that require crossing the midline. This game promotes coordination, concentration, and cognitive development.

We can support their overall development and lay a strong foundation for literacy skills by incorporating these proprioceptive and midline-crossing activities into children’s daily routines. These activities not only enhance body awareness and coordination but also establish essential neural connections within the brain, enabling children to excel in reading and writing. Furthermore, movement is integral to early childhood education, providing young readers with the skills they need to succeed and empowering them for future academic achievements.

Below are a few more links and resources for you if you want to learn more:

Move to Learn Webinars for Caregivers and Children run by @sesamestreetincommunities

Teaching Literacy in Waldorf Schools from @mountainphoenixcommunityschool

Literacy Lessons in Waldorf Early Childhood by @waldorfcoach Rebecca Hipps


Meagan Wilson is a parent educator and author of the now-retired seasonal series of Whole Family Rhythms. After finishing a BA, she went on to complete her Foundations in Steiner Education and Anthroposophy at Sydney Steiner College, as well as her Waldorf Early Childhood Certification at the Rudolf Steiner Centre in Toronto. She has received her certification as a Simplicity Parenting Family Life Coach and has supported hundreds of parents to create a strong family rhythm unique to their own values and culture. She has four young children. Meagan provides resources, support and information to parents who are looking for a bridge to cross between their unique family life and their children’s (often but not always) Waldorf schools.

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