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Last month I told you about my experiences teaching 9 and 10 year olds how to learn. It was a very exciting time for me and I mentioned then that I used some Brain Gym® exercises to help fill some of the time and to provide another level of stimulation for the children I was teaching. I thought that this month I would give you some more information about Brain Gym.
I first came across Brain Gym® in Alistair Smith's excellent book Accelerated Learning in the Classroom. He describes it as follows:
"Brain Gym is a quick and effective way of changing the physical and mental state of the learners in your class. It involves physical and mental activity. It connects left and right brain and it helps improve motor co-ordination."
I did a bit of research on the internet and found the Brain Gym® website that describes it as:
"… a trademarked program of 26 targeted physical activities that improve learning abilities. Built upon more than 80 years of research, Brain Gym® was originally developed to enable children and adults to overcome so-called "learning disabilities." Today Brain Gym® is used widely by children, adults, and seniors to bring about rapid and often dramatic improvements in concentration, memory, reading skills, writing, organisation, athletic skills, well being ..."
The groundwork for Brain Gym® was based on over 80 years of research in physical movement, education and child development, but the specific work that resulted in the system was carried out by Dr Paul Dennison. It was already well established when he began his research, that physical movements contributed to brain development in babies and young children. Babies naturally carried out these movements, and what Dr Dennison did was to adapt these movements so that they could be effective for children and adults. Initially the research was targeted at helping individuals who had been labelled with "learning difficulties" but he realised that the system could enhance performance in all areas - intellectual, creative, athletic, and interpersonal. He found that every block in learning or performance is reflected in a blockage of physical movement and energy flow.
The 26 exercises he produced focus on what Dennison called the Three Dimensions of LATERALITY (the ability to co-ordinate one side of the brain with the other); FOCUS (the ability to co-ordinate the back and front areas of the brain); and CENTRING (the ability to co-ordinate the top and bottom areas of the brain).
Developing these dimensions using Brain Gym® will:
promote fluid whole-body movement develop the ability to move and think at the same time improve comprehension and the ability to find meaning develop organisational abilities improve the ability to feel and express emotions
When we ran the course for 9 and 10 year olds I used the following exercises:
1. Drawing the figure 8 in the air - first of all with the right hand, then the left hand and then both hands - the larger the better. Variations included using both hands to trace the figure by moving the hands away and towards the body.
2. Writing their name in the air, first with each hand and then with both hands - again the bigger the better.
3. Patting the head with one hand and rubbing the stomach with the other and then swapping hands and swapping movements.
These are some very basic exercises or variants of them but they were extremely effective. I used music and intended the application to be an energiser and it was only after further research that I understood the benefits of the movements themselves. I shall be exploring Brain Gym® further, not only to enhance the work I currently do with kids but also for my own personal development - it is never too late to start developing the brain.
To ask about any aspect of Accelerated Learning, e-mail himself (at) michaeltipper.com . Due to Michael's hectic schedule, he may not be able to write back, but will do his best to cover the main issues raised, in future articles [more about Michael on the page here].
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Silver Medallist in the World Memory Championships.
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