Last weekend, I was fortunate enough to attend the American Montessori Society conference in San Francisco. One workshop I chose to sit in was called “Kids on the Move” based on an incredible book and concept called Brain Gym by Paul and Gail Dennison. The presentation was led by the exuberant Melani Alexander Fuchs.
I have already implemented several of the activities into our home and have seen results with my preschooler in just a few days. This stuff is amazing and easy to incorporate into a home and classroom, indoors and outdoors.
Brain Gym & The Importance of Movement in Early Childhood
I highly recommend the very reasonably priced Brain Gym book. The opening message to parents and educators is worth the purchase alone. Brain Gym focuses on ‘whole brain learning' and is founded in Educational Kinesiology, the study of the movement of the human body. The basic goal is to ‘draw out potentials locked in the body.'
How is that for powerful?
The Importance of Movement & Early Learning
Very simply and briefly, edu-Kinesthetics teaches ‘repatterning procedures' enabling student to access parts of their brains that had not been available to them previously. The best part? This stuff is great for kids AND us adults.
In this book, approach divides activities into three sections: Midline Movements, Lengthening Activities, and Energy Exercises & Deepening Attitudes. I'll give you a few examples of each below. The book is great too because it divides the exercises into specific skill sets such as writing and self-awareness skills. I also love the Brain Gym approach because of the overlap with yoga in its positions and breathing exercises.
3 Main Areas of Movement Activities for Kids
#1 – Midline Movements help us practice using both sides of the brain together. Examples include ‘Thinking if an X‘, ‘Skip A Cross‘ (which can be done to music, which is always fun), drawing ‘Lazy 8s‘, ‘Double Doodle'(I love this post giving an example of the exercise), simply drawing with both hands at the same time, and ‘Rocker‘ by leaning onto our hands and rocking back and forth in circles.
#2 – Lengthening Activities focus on ‘forward moving posture' and with the ability to express ourselves. Exercises within this area include: ‘Arm Activation‘ and the ‘Grounder‘, which are both similar to poses in yoga. Arm Activation involves holding one arm up against the ear and then using the other arm to hold it and press in, out, up and down. Grounder reminds me of a Warrior pose in yoga. You spread your legs, point the right foot (the back foot) to the right and the left foot (the front foot) straight ahead.
#3 – Energy Exercises & Deepening Attitudes assist with connecting neurons. Examples include ‘Sipping Water‘, ‘Earth, Balance and Space Buttons‘, involving pressing into the navel and other parts of the body relax us and clear our minds, ‘Energy Yawn‘ and ‘Thinking Caps‘ helping with focus. There is also my favorite, ‘Positive Points' that work on nerves and assist in moving beyond the “worry zone”.
This site has a very thorough overview of all 26 Brain Gym movements. Please keep in mind that this material is owned by the Dennison's. If you plan to implement the official program in your classroom, be sure to go about it in the proper way. Thanks!
Thank you for visiting! I hope I have inspired you today!