Whether its driving, working at the computer, or watching a movie, we all spend a tremendous amount of our time sitting.
Children are no exception.
They sit all day in a classroom, and if they’re like most American kids, they spend hours sitting and watching television or playing video games.
Though we often view thinking and
movement as separate, research has shown
that our bodies and brains are connected, and
that movement is an important part of the learning process.
The brain is made up of two hemispheres: the left side deals with details and logic, and the right side deals with the gestalt or “whole processing.” We often hear people label others as “right-brained” or “left-brained,” and although most of us do have a more dominant side, it is important to activate both sides in order to be an efficient learner.
This integration can make reading, writing, and other academics much easier and less frustrating.
So how does physical movement play a role in learning?
We tend to think of learning as all “in our heads,” but thinking itself is a skill that is dependent on the whole integrated mind/body system . Muscular activities, especially coordinated, cross-body movements, help to develop and strengthen the pathways between the two brain hemispheres, which in turn makes learning easier.
If your child tends to be fidgety or have a hard time concentrating in the classroom or when doing homework, it could be due to lack of movement. The following are simple, quick activities that can have an amazing effect on learning and can be integrated throughout the day if children become sleepy or restless. (These work for adults, too! They are a quick, easy way to get refocused and motivated).
The Cross Crawl is a cross-lateral walking in place. By touching the right elbow to the left knew then the left elbow to the right knee, large areas of both brain hemispheres are being activated simultaneously. This exercise should be done fairly slowly. It can also be done to music.
The Lazy 8 for writing is a pencil and paper exercise geared to improve writing skills. To do a Lazy 8, draw a sideways 8 on paper or chalkboard with a flowing continuous movement. Start at the middle, draw counterclockwise first: up, over, and around; then clockwise: up, over, around, and back to the midpoint. Do five or more continuous repetitions with each hand and then five or more with both hands together.