The 26 Brain Gym activities are designed to help learners organize action around the body’s midline, similar to the way walking, skipping, or running might do. The activities, each taking only seconds to complete, offer a variety of skills: Some help lengthen tense muscles while others emphasize skills of stability, mobility, self-calming, or sensorimotor coordination. The 26 challenge both large- and small-motor skills for coordination of eyes and hands, skimming and scanning, ease of head turning, reciprocal arm/leg motion, and moving the whole body in centered alignment.
The 26 activities are organized into four categories that address three anatomical/ metaphoric movement dimensions, along with self-calming and social-emotional learning. The categories allow learners to notice what they need in order to maintain and cultivate what Edu-K calls the “physical skills of learning”—such as bilateral integration of vision, audition, and movement on the midfield of our attention. Each activity can also be offered within a playful game or aerobic break*.
The activities are taught in the Brain Gym program, providing beginners with the essence of Educational Kinesiology: drawing out learning through movement experiences. In “Brain Gym 101: Balance for Daily Life,” 11 “Action Balances” organize new learning around the 5-step balance process, including the setting of a personal goal. Movement toward a self-chosen goal helps students shift from a view of learning as a static product to one of learning as a movement-based process. The 26 activities are given within a framework of soft skills (finding a learning pace, learning as a cycle, discovering a language of learning, and so on) supporting the “Learning Flow” of this dynamic process.
The theory behind the Brain Gym work is that humans naturally move to learn, but may become inhibited by stress or fear. Tension and sitting can shorten muscles and affect our two-sided functioning and natural ease of motion, as well as inhibiting thought, perception, and sensory awareness. Rhythmic movement restores a learning flow—from exploration and intake through expression and application. Optimal learning becomes available as we notice, maintain, and cultivate visual, auditory, kinesthetic, tactile, and proprioceptive skills.
The Brain Gym work has been translated into more than 40 languages, and is offered in such diverse fields as academics, sports, business, and senior care in more than 80 countries worldwide. The Brain Gym activities are frequently used in schools, and are the most well-known part of the Edu-K work. Click here to see video examples of the 26.
*This article is summarized from Brain Gym®: Teacher’s Edition, (C) 2010 by Paul E. Dennison and Gail E. Dennison, which includes ways to use the 26 in coaching specific sensory, motor, and academic skills, a cross-reference for setting up Brain Gym stations, and a chapter on games and play.
You might also like:
“Danny and the Birth of Brain Gym” (the beginnings of Brain Gym activities as homeplay)
“Brain Gym in Shanghai: A Photo Journal” (a glimpse of a Brain Gym course in action)
“Sudoku on My Brain: An Artist’s Statement” (an artist and teacher uses Brain Gym in her courses with seniors)
© 2015; updated 2018 Paul Dennison. All rights reserved.
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