What is the role of the body in learning and how does this relates to everyday skills? To take reading as an example, one of the physical skills involved is the movement of the eyes across the page, left to right, right to left, up and down and scanning in all directions. It is commonly found by practitioners, clients and students that, through the use of particular Brain Gym movements, reading and comprehension can improve, accompanied by eye tracking fluency.
The Brain Gym movements are designed to be used in complementary groups: reading is both an auditory and a visual skill, therefore Brain Gym activities that facilitate both listening and seeing can be used to help reading; writing with ease involves hand-eye co-ordination and crossing the body midline, so the Brain Gym approach is to use activities which help these core body skills.
Here is an example of Brain Gym being used to improve handwriting. The client was a 6 year old boy (H). When asked to write a sentence, he initially wrote:
H then did a sequence of four Brain Gym activities known as PACE, designed to create an alert yet relaxed state and to prepare the body for learning. This was followed by an activity which involves crossing the body midline with eyes and hands in a co-ordinated way, Lazy 8s. The ability to do this is involved in core skills such as reading (eyes) and writing (eyes and hands) and, when all goes well in development, naturally evolves. For some learners, this is not automatic and Brain Gym activities are used with the aim of facilitating this. H then rewrote the sentence:
The process took less than two minutes. Click on How people benefit for a more detailed description of the consultation.
People who attend Brain Gym trainings and individual sessions soon discover that there is a strong developmental aspect to the Brain Gym movements. Some of the movements revisit, in adapted form, natural movement patterns (childhood reflexes) normally activated by the child in early development (eg The Owl – Asymmetric Tonic Neck Reflex). Movement patterns become more complex as the brain develops, building on earlier physical skills, such as the progression from gross to fine motor skills. Where the core movements are not fully in place – balance, hand-eye co-ordination, cross-lateral movement, are examples - the physical skills that are relied upon for complex, centrally focussed movement, such as handwriting, can be challenging.
Some practitioners, such as Svetlana Masgutova, PhD from Poland, have pioneered specialised and In Depth programmes involving the development and integration of the reflexes, incorporating the Brain Gym model (Dynamic and Postural Reflexes programme). The Total Core Repatterning process, used in advanced Educational Kinesiology, also address this in an In Depth way. Cecilia Freeman, from the US, has adapted Educational Kinesiology to work with children who have exceptional physical, emotional or cognitive challenges.