In the Loop: Lazy 8s and Creative Possibility

by Deborah Scott Studebaker 

Deborah Scott Studebaker teaching a small-group poetry workshop to middle school youth.

Drawing a Lazy 8 helps coordinate the eyes for smoothly crossing the visual midline.

Drawing a Lazy 8 helps coordinate the eyes for smoothly crossing the visual midline.

I love Lazy 8s! Tracing this simple, flowing infinity pattern connects the eyes to the hands to the hemispheres. As a poetry teacher, I have seen it encourage writers of all ages to release their ideas onto the page. As a Brain Gym consultant, I have watched the movement literally transform behavior. But I had never felt the extent of its physical power until I started working with a very unique young man.

“Vincent” is a 13 year-old who came to me for issues of focus and attention. He loved books and stories, and his imaginative drawings showed the mind of an inventor. Vincent’s inner life was his safe haven. His mother said she was looking for creative ways to help him manage his tasks and confidently interact with the world.

Creative writing tools (including notebook and poetry magnets) along with Brain Gym activity cards are laid out to use as pre-checks and menu for a writing balance.

Creative writing tools (pen, notebook, and poetry magnets) are laid out to use as pre-checks for a writing balance. Selected Brain Gym activity cards provide the “learning menu,” intended to invite a sense of curiosity and choice.

At our first meeting, Vincent quietly explored my office, head down. He was polite and cooperative; willing to engage in all sorts of movement pre-checks. Sustaining eye contact or conversation was harder; “I don’t know” was his default response to any question. With verbal noticing* and goal-setting clearly unavailable in that moment, I turned immediately to the drawing out model: a magnificent Brain Gym method that engages both client and facilitator in curiosity and discovery.

Vincent used objects in my office to turn it into a construction zone.

My job was not to “fix” Vincent, but to empower his self-awareness. I would offer him choices, and follow his lead. I knew that Vincent’s mind/body system would chart our course. Where to begin? With movement and play!

Our first session took us into PACE**, onto the balance board, then over to observation and word games. Vincent was drawn to my wooden Lazy 8 track, and began to guide a marble around the pathway. He then chose a Dennison Laterality Repatterning from the learning menu (a process that invites core stability and contralateral movement.) After the balance, Vincent was newly aware of his hand position, and the pressure of his pen. He observed: “I’m usually going at a faster pace, but now I have more time for the ideas.” At the end of our first appointment, I noticed that he seemed taller. Were his eyes a bit brighter too?

Our work together had begun. Each week, I would offer Vincent his choice of movement games and activities. We tossed beanbags and bounced balls; we batted balloons around the room. He jumped on my mini-trampoline, drew fanciful characters, and arranged magnetic poetry tiles.

Vincent drew the Lazy 8s horizontally in the air, but always drew them vertically on the whiteboard, without creating a lateral midline.

When it came time to pick a Brain Gym movement, Vincent usually chose Lazy 8s. And while he could easily draw the horizontal pattern in the air, he would draw it vertically on my white board (see image at left). I resisted the impulse to correct him, waiting and watching his mind/body intelligence at work.

Vincent selected other Brain Gym activities too: Earth Buttons, Neck Rolls and Belly Breathing. I sensed that this young man was searching for physical grounding.

So we turned my office into a virtual construction zone! Vincent built dens, hideouts, and passageways using tables, chairs, blankets, buckets, blocks and anything else in the room that could be repurposed.

Vincent’s “hideouts” illustrate a grounding, self-organizing kind of play, calling on new spatial/motor skills.

I saw that, by arranging and moving around in his surroundings, Vincent was developing skills of grounding, centralized awareness, and self-organization (see Editor’s note).

“…he controlled the wooden Lazy 8 track with his hands, his knees, even his head.”

Over time, Lazy 8s continued to be Vincent’s go-to movement. He walked the pattern, enlarged, on the floor, drew it on paper, and controlled the wooden track with his hands, his knees—even his head (I’ve noticed that, when exploring sensory and motor skills, people are often led to do surprising things!)

On the day of our fifth session, as Vincent stood at the white board, his Lazy 8s became horizontal! With each loop of the marker, I saw a newfound ease and grace settle into his body: 8s made with one hand, then the other, then both hands. It was a breakthrough moment.

Suddenly Vincent began drawing horizontal Lazy 8s—a breakthrough moment!

Suddenly Vincent began drawing horizontal Lazy 8s—a breakthrough moment!

Vincent’s growth has continued. Now, when he arrives, he comes in with a sense of purpose. He sits across my table, fills out a written pre-check form** and we chat. While I still initiate most of our conversations, I get a kick out of his quirky sense of humor. He draws his pictures, and frequently looks up and smiles. He seems happy and relaxed in his own skin.

A few weeks ago, we talked about school starting up again. Vincent said he was excited. I felt an opening in which to ask what he might like to work toward achieving in 7th grade. He told me that he’d “like to feel good about this year, and solve problems as they come along.” I was heartened by his wisdom—and the fact that he was able to articulate a goal.

Vincent’s Lazy 8s keep on evolving too. Recently, I asked him to draw a picture, do some 8s, and draw again. He created his horizontal 8 on the white board with a large, fluid, full-body motion. But it was the difference in his picture afterward that astonished me. Where his fanciful pre-sketch was cute and comical, his highly detailed post-sketch was drawn in a much more grounded and sophisticated style! And he wasn’t finished yet.

His drawings before (left) and immediately after (right) doing some Lazy 8s.

Vincent’s drawings before (left) and immediately after (right) doing some Lazy 8s.

Vincent then went back to the board and erased the center of the 8, leaving an empty space between the two sides. I wasn’t sure what he was doing. Moments later, he cross-hatched the opening, as if to build up a bridge between the two sides—just as we teach in Brain Gym, that the Corpus Callosum can be seen as a “bridge” between the brain’s two hemispheres. I was flabbergasted—it’s nothing Vincent and I had ever discussed.

A close-up of the cross-hatching marks at the precise center of the 8.

A close-up of the cross-hatching marks he drew at the precise center of the 8.

Vincent's Lazy 8s on the whiteboard, with his crosshatching in the middle.

Vincent’s Lazy 8s on the whiteboard, showing his crosshatching in the middle.

Perhaps Vincent’s most dramatic experience with Lazy 8s immersed him in the movement for a full 15 minutes. The rhythm, flow, and the sound of the marble on the wooden track took him into “the zone.” Slowly, it transitioned into a shared activity: we each held one end of the wooden track in the air between us. We operated it together, sensing the shifts in tempo, weight, and hand position required to keep the momentum going. I was literally “in the loop” with Vincent, a part of his creative process. I will never forget that moment of collaboration.

In Educational Kinesiology, we learn that doing Lazy 8 is an opportunity to define the left and right visual fields and the point midway between them, where the two visual fields must overlap. Using both left and right sides of the body this way appears to connect the two hemispheres. We often see improved eye-teaming skills and a lessening of letter reversals and transpositions. I’ve also seen how doing the 8s can relax the muscles of the hands, arms, and shoulders, and support balance and coordination.

Working with Vincent in this organic, collaborative way has shown me that drawing Lazy 8s can have a profound social, emotional, and creative impact that grows alongside the physical skills of learning.

Before I came to Brain Gym, I thought that everyone had to live with struggle and limitation. And even though I had experienced blissful moments of mind/ body integration, I didn’t have reliable tools to help get me back there when I drifted out of sync. Now I understand that movement, self-awareness, and intention bring enormous gifts for positive change. This happy sense of possibility fuels the work I am lucky enough to do with Vincent and my other clients.

Vincent chose the Lazy 8s for a reason unique to his own mind/body intelligence. I can’t wait to see what he chooses next.

Deborah Scott-Studebaker

Deborah Scott-Studebaker

Deborah Scott Studebaker is a Los Angeles writer, educator and speaker who is deeply curious about the link between language and movement. She is a Licensed Brain Gym® consultant and a certified Touch for Health Kinesiologist. Deb serves as Poet-in-Residence at The Willows Community School in Culver City, and also holds a certificate in Social Emotional Arts Education through UCLA Arts and Healing. In her workshops with young people and/or adults, Deb presents the physical skills of learning as a powerful context for creativity and social/emotional development. Deb is the founder of Inner-Genius, a consultancy that helps clients of all ages imagine, achieve, and succeed. To learn more, contact her via deb@inner-genius.com or read about her work at www.movedtowrite.com.

*Working with Vincent has inspired me to find alternatives to spoken noticing, a process we learn in Brain Gym 101. One fantastic way to elicit a client’s thoughts and feelings is with a written pre-check/post-check form. Karen Petersen uses this technique with seniors in her lovely book, Move with Balance: Healthy Aging Activities for Brain and Body. I modified her form to use with clients of all ages.

**PACE: An acronym for doing four simple Brain Gym warm-up activities that help connect with a state of feeling Positive, Active, Clear, and Energetic.

***The Brain Gym activities are described in depth, along with suggested applications, in Brain Gym®: Teacher’s Edition (2010), by Paul and Gail Dennison, ©2010, Edu-Kinesthetics, Inc., Ventura, CA. Inspiration for the activities was drawn from many sources, including Developmental Optometry, dance, long distance running, child development, the postural work of F.M. Alexander, the Touch for Health process, and the Dennison’s own inventiveness. The Brain Gym®: Teacher’s Edition and Brain Gym activity cards can both be purchased at Brain Gym Bookstore.

Editor’s Note: Author, educator, and researcher David Sobel, Antioch University, writes about children’s building of tents, dens, and hideaways as a way to expand their sense of self and their knowledge of the social and natural world.

© 2017 Deborah Scott Studebaker. Adapted from an article in the Educational Kinesiology Foundation Newsletter, Volume 1 Issue 6. Brain Gym® is a trademark of the Educational Kinesiology Foundation/Brain Gym International www.braingym.org.

 

Engaging Children in the Classroom with Music and Play

Classroom students learn to follow rhythm and vocal pitch while exploring new language skills and enjoying the play state evoked by Education Through Music movement games.

Classroom students learn to follow rhythm and vocal pitch while exploring new language skills and enjoying the play state evoked by Education Through Music movement games.

Paul and I are delighted to offer this guest blog from Laura Walter, a workshop leader for Education Through Music (ETM). Laura, a dear friend and fellow advocate of learning through movement and play, first told me about ETM in 2003. Paul and I have since enjoyed exploring in ETM like-minded thinkers and movers, focused on providing play and cross-lateral experiences (walking, skipping, hand-crossing) for self-actualizing learners within a community-building setting. We soon realized that this was the same program that author and educator Joseph Chilton Pearce had recommended that we look into. It turns out that Pearce had recommended the Brain Gym® work to the ETM group, as well, including both programs as experiences he favored for the developing child. We love to play song games with our family members and ETM and other friends, and highly commend this enlivening program. —Gail

When I clap the rhythm to a song, the children listen with close attention and are always delighted to try figuring out which one of the songs we’ve sung together it could be. They eagerly offer ideas and together sing parts of the songs in order to settle on the answer. Then we all leap to our feet to play the corresponding song game as we sing the song.

These young people love singing in canon, and taking turns leading the Solfege hand signs in three parts while listening to how beautiful the combined parts sound. The classroom teachers comment on how interesting it is that, when the children come in to music, they’re attentive and ready to learn. In ETM, all of our motivation is intrinsic: the singing and the playing for its own sake . . . the sound for its beauty. Thus the children come along easily, with regard for each other and regard for the music.

ETM integrates singing with critical thinking games to teach the fundamentals of pitch and rhythm. Through weekly music activities, the song games help students discover skills of pattern recognition, social interaction, and working as a team.

As our society moves into more and more distractions, play and song can bring attention systems into greater focus. Teachers have particularly remarked on how those children who learn better in nontraditional ways, often through movement, are completely immersed in and captivated by the song game activities. Our program lets all participating children feel successful. They all sing and interact, as in this short video.

Patrons of the Ojai Music Festival enjoy a surprise interactive demonstration of ETM led by artist-in-residence Laura Walter and participating students from Ojai schools.

Some of our classes include special-needs children. A boy I’ll call Marco is one such child. He is nonverbal, moving with assistance or very slowly. With his automated talking board, he can touch a response to a question. On many days, the classroom children will choose Marco to have the next turn, and cheer for him as he runs around the circle at his own pace to participate in the game.

When one of the special-needs children is called on to offer an answer, the other children wait patiently to hear it, no matter its possibility of being correct. The kindness in the room is palpable. This is one of the hallmarks of arts education.

At the end of one year, one of the teachers mentioned to me that her class had played and sung ETM games every morning, to set the tone of their day. I told her that many teachers feel they don’t have the time to do that. She said, “They don’t have the time not to do it.”

ETM in a classroom greatly diminishes discipline concerns and impulse-control problems. When we sing and play with such joy, our brains are wiring connections for a productive and successful life.

Laura WalterLaura Walter is the Bravo Education Coordinator for the Ojai Music Festival. She has served on the faculty of Westmont College for more than 20 years. Laura has taught at Wright State University and Miami Valley Music Academy, and has been a featured guest lecturer at the Dayton Philharmonic. Formerly the Executive Director of The Richards Institute of Education and Research, a nonprofit group, she continues working with teachers and children, especially atrisk youth, using interactive play to develop motivation, intelligence, literacy, and emotional stability. She is the regional coordinator of Education Through Music and leads workshops for teachers to incorporate the arts into the current STEAM philosophy. Her students have gone on to successful careers as musicians, doctors, scientists and major symphony conductors. 

For more information see http://www.ojaifestival.org/education/bravo-program/ or www.richardsinstitute.org

 

School Readiness = Sitting Readiness!

Each of us can benefit from even small improvements in our ability to access positions of dynamic sitting. Although this article was written in response to a question about a four-year old, the markers described below, along with the Brain Gym activities, will be useful at any age.

Question from a Reader:
My grandson is four years old. He has been accepted into a public preschool program. One of the problems with this is that he would be on a school bus two or more hours per day, though the program is only two and a half hours long. The other option is to continue his private preschool classes three times a week. In determining which program is better for him, his mother is open to suggestions. At this point, he shows no problems except that it’s hard for him to focus, especially on things he’s not interested in, such as art.

My response:
 The Edu-K work is based on the concept that the more learners can integrate their basic sensorimotor skills for ease of whole-body balance and coordination, the freer will be the whole brain—especially the prefrontal cortex, the “Executive Brain”—that is needed for focusing on cognitive skills. Otherwise, as a child learns, he may always be keeping a partial focus on the challenge of how to sit, balance, walk, hold a pencil, or otherwise be comfortable as he moves. For a four-year-old, exploration of the three-dimensional world through play and movement is the best way for him to organize himself in his world—to discover how to relate happily to his surroundings with both mobility and stability while focusing his attention.

So how can your daughter best ensure that her son is actively engaging his sensorimotor skills as he begins school?

A child who is developmentally ready for tasks involving hand-eye coordination will be able to sit with ease and stability.

A child who is developmentally ready for tasks involving hand-eye coordination will be able to sit with ease and stability.

Our suggestion to her (or to any parent with similar concerns about their child of any age): Watch the child at play for 20 minutes and make note of how many times they change position. Then observe the child while he or she sits. Will they know how to stay comfortably upright on a long bus ride?

There’s a world of difference between active (dynamic) and passive sitting. So note how frequently a child’s seated movement comes into vertical alignment with gravity (active sitting); that is, his sacrum and occiput are in sync, allowing the spine to move freely without slouching. Sitting with knees level with hips (or slightly lower) protects the neck and spine. If a child’s chair doesn’t properly fit him, sitting on a rolled towel or wedge most often gives immediate access to good alignment, as indicated by the following markers:

  • He or she is sitting on their sacral platform (sitz bones), allowing for a natural lumbar curve.
  • The hips, torso, and head are stacked, with a vertical axis in gravity; he doesn’t tend to tilt his head or twist his torso to either the left or right.
  • The child’s head is balanced over his or her torso, rather than thrust forward or bent down (for each inch that the head tilts forward of the shoulders, the neck muscles must support about eight pounds of added weight).
  • The movements of his sacrum and occiput are generally in sync (a good connection between the sacral and occipital areas provides stability for development of the neck muscles, jaw and eyes, and overall head-turning ability).
  • He moves his spine freely, without collapsing into a C-shape curve.

Noticing of these markers can help a parent to recognize when a child is developmentally ready to sit for any length of time, as they’ll surely be required to do in a school classroom, or as would be necessary for a bus ride.

Parents might also consider how likely it is that the time on the bus will teach a child to become inactive, for the 2½ hours is time he or she might otherwise be using to do gross-motor play like running, jumping, or taking a walk with his family. Or the child might be doing fine-motor arts and crafts, or learning to socialize with friends—any of which can support sensorimotor coordination and even the initiative to move. How much will excessive sitting dampen down the child’s motivation and aliveness?

By the time your grandson is in kindergarten, he and his peers are likely to find themselves in a classroom hierarchy largely based on how well they pay attention, including how well they sit still. Yet it sounds like these are two things he isn’t quite ready to do. The stress of a two-hour bus ride is more likely to inhibit than support his connection to the motor skills that will help him prepare for classroom ease. There is probably little your grandson can gain in even a high-quality preschool classroom that will justify his sitting inactively in a school bus for more than two hours per day.

Regarding the Brain Gym activities, it will also be helpful to teach him (little by little) the Cross Crawl, Lazy 8s, a few Lengthening Activities**, and some Energy Exercises—especially the Energy Yawn, the Thinking Cap, Earth Buttons, and Space Buttons, as these can support his motor skills, centralization in the visual midfield, and general learning-readiness, and can help to release motor compensations. Knowing these activities, and the comfort they can bring, can also empower him to know what he needs to keep his eyes, ears, and whole body more active—either in the classroom or on a bus. To benefit a four-year-old, the Brain Gym activities will ideally be done to music and as a fun family activity.

Our preference is always to increase children’s playtime and to support movement patterns (playful Cross Crawling and many long walks) until a child’s freedom of focus becomes the leading energy. This can take minutes, days, or weeks.

Gail Dennison, co-author of the Brain Gym program and movement educator

This situation can also be a wonderful opportunity for you, as a grandmother, to share with your daughter what you know through your years of hands-on experience, as well as through the book and research links that I’ve included below. Although the decision is ultimately up to the boy’s mother, I believe we all hunger for a deeper connection with the wise elders in our lives. I have many times used Edu-K balancing to step into that role, and have found this to bring me great joy.

A Postscript
I received this thank-you note: “I think the article you wrote is wonderful. Just thought you’d like to know that my daughter and her husband have agreed to NOT send my grandson to the public school. My daughter appreciates your thoughts in the article, and it probably made an impact on their decision.” Δ

*For a detailed description of these and other Brain Gym activities, see Brain Gym®: Teacher’s Edition, 2010, by Paul and Gail Dennison.

For a translation of this article into Spanish, click here: Preparados para la Escuela = ¡Preparados para sentarse!

Links to other books, research, and articles on sitting alignment that we reference:
Kathleen Porter’s Sad Dog, Happy Dog: How Poor Posture Affects Your Child’s Health and What You Can Do About It, searchable at http://tinyurl.com/n7wzrk3 #parents

“The Vestibular System Goes to School,” by Mary J. Kawar, MS, OT/L, PediaStaff: http://www.pediastaff.com/blog/the-vestibular-system-goes-to-school-362

Research study results, published in The Journal of Pediatrics, showing that children who did not spend time outdoors after school failed to reach the recommended amount of daily exercise. The same children also spent an additional 70 minutes per day in sedentary behavior, compared to children who reported spending most of their time outdoors after school. Peer-reviewed journal reference: Schafer, Lee, et al. 2014. “Outdoor Time Is Associated with Physical Activity, Sedentary Time, and Cardiorespiratory Fitness in Youth,” The Journal of Pediatrics (early release)


“Kids Still Getting Too Much ‘Screen Time’”: CDC, HealthDay, US News and World Report.

“A Surprising Hazard of Sitting All Day” by Michelle Schoffro Cook, link here.

Photo Credit: ID 19548117 © Rimma Zaytseva | Dreamstime.com

© 2014, 2017 by Gail Dennison. All rights reserved.

Brain Gym®  is a trademark of the Educational Kinesiology Foundation. Click here for the name of an instructor near you.

 

 

Build a Robot Dog! Literacy in Action: A 5-Year-Old Shows Us How

The Robot Dog, as my grandson built him.

The Robot Dog, as my grandson built him.

Our five-year-old grandson recently visited, and we were enjoying all kinds of good play. At one point, he and I looked at the pictures in a book he had about robots, and we saw a colorful drawing of a robot dog. My grandson and I like to make paper crafts that move (automata), and this looked like the perfect thing. “Do you think we could make our own robot dog?” I asked. “We would just need a wheel—maybe a lid from something . . .” He nodded enthusiastically, so I opened the craft box and began sorting through the recycle items; asking him what he thought would work for a body, a head, and so on. He looked up thoughtfully and said: “Oh, I know how Grandma! Do you have some white paper? First I have to write the instructions.”

I know it’s important for youngsters to be able to carry their own creative projects through from the concrete to the abstract, and back again to the concrete. So I quickly put my own ideas aside, letting him guide the project. I got the paper and sat down next to him, listening intently to see how (or if) I would be invited to participate. My grandson began scribing some strange marks on the page. In a few minutes, his “writing” was complete (see his numbered schematic, below).

My grandson's schematic for the Robot Dog.

My grandson’s schematic for the Robot Dog.

He held up his instructions and pointed to each step as he thoughtfully explained it. (Below, I’ve written out my version of his verbal “instructions,” next to the photos of how he implemented them):

Steps 5 & 9, somehow omitted from my above photo.

Steps 5 & 9, somehow omitted from my above photo.

1. First you need a lid to make the wheel. Use a scissors to poke a hole in the lid. (He found two apple juice lids in the craft box; we put them back to back. Since the scissors wouldn’t work for poking a hole through metal, I got to do that job with a hammer and nail.)

1. Wheel (lid); scissors (upper left) to poke the hole.

1. Wheel (lid); scissors (upper left) to poke the hole.

2. Next, use a cardboard tube for the dog’s body. Make a slit to put a bendy stick (pipe cleaner) through.

2. Use scissors to make a slit in a cardboard TP tube.

2. Use scissors to make a slit in a cardboard TP tube.

3. Poke the bendy stick through the hole in the wheel and through the slit in the cardboard. (My grandson later changed his mind about the slit, and simply wrapped the pipe cleaner around, instead).

3. Use a bendy stick to attach the wheel to the cardboard tube.

3. Use a bendy stick to attach the wheel to the cardboard tube.

4. Scotch tape 2 straws to his body: one for his neck; one for his tail. Use tape and construction paper to cover one of the holes in the cardboard roll.

4. Tape a straw to the TP tube.

4. Tape a straw to the TP tube.

 

Your Robot Dog will look something like this as you complete steps 1 - 4.

Your Robot Dog will look something like this as you complete steps 1 – 4.

5. Make the Robot Dog’s head out of construction paper; tape it to the straw. Use scotch tape and construction paper to cover the hole at the other end of the cardboard tube.

5. Make the Robot Dog's head. Add a paper to cover the holes in the TP tube.

5. Make the Robot Dog’s head. Add a paper to cover the holes in the TP tube.

6. Make his ears (construction paper).

After making the head and ears (5, 6).

After making the head and ears (5, 6).

6. Use scissors to make your Robot Dog some ears.

6. Use scissors to make your Robot Dog some ears.

7. For your dog’s tail, use construction paper to make a round circle and tape it to the straw.

7. Make your dog a tail.

7. Make your dog a tail.

 

Blue construction paper makes a great pom pom for the tail (7).

Blue construction paper makes a great pom pom for the tail (7).

8. For your Robot Dog’s instrument panel, make three dots on one side of his body.

8. Add 3 dots (the instrument panel).

8. Add 3 dots (the instrument panel).

9. He’s ready to go for a spin!

9. The completed Robot Dog, ready to roll!

9. The completed Robot Dog, ready to roll!

Later, my grandson made a bone and bed (below) for his Robot Dog.

Every dog needs a bone.

Every dog needs a bone.

My grandson told me that he has a new pet goldfish, Rennie, that he won at the fair. “And now,” he said, “I have two pets: Rennie and my Robot Dog!”

A bed for the Robot Dog.

A bed for the Robot Dog.

My addendum: My grandson has all the preliteracy skills in place. He loves to move and play. He enjoys conversing. He loves books, likes being read to, and delights in making up his own stories. He likes three-dimensional crafts, and enjoys using his hands and eyes to explore and create things. He has an active imagination: it took him only seconds to visualize how he would make the Robot Dog, and only a few minutes to write out the sequence in his shorthand way—less time than it took to actually make the Robot Dog. He’s curious about making and translating symbols, and knows how to hold a pencil correctly. Our daughter said to be sure to mention that he plays with Legos, and likes to “read” the instructions.

Perhaps most important was that, without any help, he first got the big picture and then was able to use symbols to put his thoughts into a detailed, linear sequence for later reference. In Edu-K and Brain Gym®, this is what we mean by whole-brain learning: the ability to perceive the big picture and be challenged by it while filling in the significant details. When applied to reading, this involves giving youngsters opportunities to have meaningful experiences with language and letting them take ownership of the creative writing process (as my grandson did with his symbols), thereby building a powerful motivation for learning to read and write.

You’ll notice that, although he sometimes reverses numbers, we call no attention to it. This is normal for his age; (in the 3-D world, a chair is still a chair, whether it is facing to the left or to the right.) As he transitions to using abstract symbols for writing, if he continues to reverse numbers, when the time comes, we’ll do a few minutes of Lazy 8s or Alphabet 8s (oriented to numbers) with him, so that he can experience the left/right difference as it applies to 2-D symbols. In any event, our focus is on learning as a synthesizing experience, especially for young learners, rather than an analytic one. Generally speaking, we find it best to let learners follow their creative flow, then hold any discussion of details aside for a separate lesson (such as an Edu-K balance or activity session).

We had fun rolling the Robot Dog around, giving him his bone, and putting him to bed.

We had fun rolling the Robot Dog around, giving him his bone, and putting him to bed.

The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant.
We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.
―Albert Einstein

For more articles on the importance of movement, imagination, and visual skills to beginning literacy, see
Reading Is a Miracle
Independent Reading: A Path to Self-Initiated Learning
How Play Can Nurture the Imaginal World: A Photo Journal

© 2014 by Gail E. Dennison. All rights reserved.

Brain Gym® is a trademark of Brain Gym® International/the Educational Kinesiology Foundation. Click here for the name of an instructor near you.

 

“Possibilities!” Brain Gym® International Conference 2014

Paul and Gail Dennison

Paul and Gail Dennison

Dear participants in the Brain Gym® International Conference 2014,

Congratulations on joining together to celebrate learning through movement and the Brain Gym program in beautiful Fort Collins, Colorado! We offer our deep appreciation to the Colorado network, Foundation staff members, International Faculty, keynote presenters, and all who will be contributing to make this year’s conference an outstanding event.

We’re excited that you’ll be meeting keynote presenter biomechanist Katy Bowman*, whose work has greatly influenced us over the last five years, and who will give you a deeper understanding of the challenges faced by the sedentary, one-sided learner in the classroom, as well as some great options for addressing these. You’ll also meet a dear and heartful inspirer of play, longtime friend of Edu-K, Fred Donaldson, who is bound to take you into new and surprising play spaces. Author and consultant Patricia Lemer will support you in expanding your thinking beyond that of symptoms and developmental labels, and give you some simple options for supporting the whole person.

Our hearts are with you as you meet for the Welcome Reception on July 25 and continue celebrating through the three days of conference events and two days of post-conference courses and workshops.

Our own new way of working has allowed Paul so far this year to teach here in Ventura, California, as well as in Arizona, Puerto Rica, Canada, and in Europe–Verona, Italy; Lausanne, Switzerland; and Avignon, France. You can see photos of Paul’s courses on Facebook. Be sure to look for the picture of Paul fulfilling a lifelong dream to do the Cross Crawl on the bridge at Avignon! Later this year he’ll also be teaching in Coyoacan, Mexico; Innsbruck, Austria; and Damme and Kirchzarten, Germany. Meanwhile, Gail continues working on blogs and the latest book project. We are delighted with the continued growth of the Edu-K and Brain Gym work.

Now that we’re connecting with so many of you on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, we’re valuing the importance of developing a presence for Brain Gym® in the social media. As we read about and reflect on the rapid changes taking place in classroom environments worldwide, we are celebrating a growing awareness of the importance of movement, play, and structural alignment in one’s everyday activities, and especially in the learning environment. Where Edu-K once pioneered the field of movement-based learning, there are now many “move to learn” programs. We believe that the 26 Brain Gym activities, the Brain Gym 101 course, Seven Dimensions of Intelligence, and our other fine courses remain unrivaled in scope, simplicity, and a regard for the learner through self-actualizing activities. Neuroscience research continues to catch up with our commonsense recognition of the interrelationship of the human body and optimal brain function.

In today’s technologically driven world that requires both near-point focus and passive sitting, the Edu-K work is becoming more important than ever—not only for schoolchildren but for people of all ages. Please acquaint yourselves with our learning resource site, Hearts at Play: Move, Learn, Bloom, that continues to offer blogs and videos to answer many of the howwhat, and why questions about the Edu-K work that you’ve asked us throughout the years. We trust you’ll find this site useful in creating immediate interest in your courses and private sessions. May your lives be touched by the “Possibilities” of moving to fulfill your personal and professional goals, and may we all keep moving with joy!

Love to all, Paul and Gail

*For more about the 2014 Conference and keynote speakers, click here.

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