Stowell Learning Center

The Gift of Movement and Unstructured Play


Living in Southern California, it can get pretty hot during the day in July, but it cools off really nicely in the evening.  One of the things my husband and I love to do is to sit outside at an outdoor food court near our home that has a huge round fountain in the center.  The raised edge encircling the fountain is about 18 inches wide.

What is such fun about this fountain is watching little children run around the edge of it with absolute delight and laughter.

There are two things that particularly strike me when I watch these little children.

First, I am amazed at the coordination of the toddlers and slightly older siblings that play this running game around the fountain.  While there are occasional falls, these children show astonishing awareness and control of their bodies and movement.

Second, the children running and playing around the fountain have no toys, no electronic devices, no structured rules.  They’re just making it up as they go along.  And guess what.  They are:

  • totally engaged
  • having fun
  • getting exercise
  • using creative thinking
  • interacting with other kids
  • building balance, visual skills, and motor planning abilities.

Believe it or not, this unstructured movement play is

building skills that children need for

paying attention and learning in the classroom.

John Ratey, M.D., author of  A User’s Guide to the Brain says, “Mounting evidence shows that movement is crucial to every other brain function, including memory, emotion, language and learning. Our “higher” brain functions have evolved from movement and still depend on it.”

When children (or adults) struggle to learn or function easily in their lives, one of the first things we need to look at is what we call Core Learning Skills.  These are foundational visual and movement skills that allow us to move easily through our environment and our social and academic worlds.  These skills, which develop through movement, support memory, attention, and organization.

As a society, we have gotten very enamored with our electronic devices – and I have to admit, they are quite amazing.  But one of the very best gifts we can give to our children is the opportunity to move and create with unstructured playtime.

Do you have a struggling student?

If your child has struggled in school and you are concerned that this school year will bring more if the same, please, please join us for a parent information meeting.

By addressing the underlying processing or learning skills that are needed for efficient learning, most learning and attention challenges can be dramatically improved or completely corrected.

Let us help you figure out and correct the root of the problem and remediate whatever academic skills have been affected.  This also is a life-changing gift you can give to yourself or your child.

Go to for date, time, and RSVP.

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