by Lisa Harp – Harp Institute
Do you ever wonder if your child is using his/her brain? Does it ever seem like the brain and the body of your child are two separate beings? Do you sometimes sense a disconnect with your child?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, your child’s brain might not have received proper stimulation some time during its course of development. And, during this course of development, most stimulation occurs through physical activity. For instance, when a baby is crawling and looks up and to the left, he/she is making neural pathways that will later on affect his/her visual memory. If the baby doesn’t do this enough or at all, a learning difference could crop up later on.
Most people deal with these learning issues by giving more academic work for the student to perform. This academic work is usually done at a table or a desk, where the student is not actively engaged in sensory-motor exercises, which will only help to connect the body with the brain. The learning issue is never fully dealt with, and the student fails to make significant progress. One way we deal with students who have weak visual memory is to have them perform a cross crawl, which emulates crawling, and we have them look up and to the left.
The body and the brain are a reciprocal feedback system. They need to communicate with each other, and what one does affects the other. Sadly, students with learning differences rarely get the opportunity to get out of their seats and conncet their bodies with their brains. They are often held after school for intervention programs where they sit at desks for even longer periods of time. Even more sadly, many of these students are misdiagnosed with ADD/ADHD and placed on harsh medications they may not need.
Young learners today enter kindergarten where they are expected to read and write, sitting at desks and tables for long periods of time. Our sandbox kindergartens are gone. Learning Disabilities are on the rise.
So, what should you do?
Start by making sure your child is receiving enough activity during the day. Sports and activities where the student crosses his/her body across the vetical midline of the body often help the left and right hemispheres of the brain communicate with each other. These are sports like karate and tennis. Baseball is good, too.
Throwing balls to a student on a mini-tramp is helpful. Jumping jacks, skipping, and balance beams are great activites as well. Any activity where the student is using large muscles will help. We learn from the outside in, but too often students missed the crucial “outside” portion and have learning gaps.
So, let’s get those kids moving!