Brain Gym

We are all natural learners, both with a remarkable mind/body system equipped with all the elements necessary for learning. Various stressors, however, can introduce blocks that inhibit the learning process.

Brain gym appears to contribute the minor adjustments necessary to enable the system to proceed with the learning process. Dr. Dee Coulter, a cognitive specialist and neuroscience educator who has worked extensively with learning difficulties, refers to these minor adjustments as micro-interventions. She explains that these bring about major change because they supply the necessary integration and also reverse the expectation of failure.

Our society today needs something simple and elegant to initiate and accomplish these micro-interventions. Every learning situation deals basically with the same steps: sensory input, integration and assimilation, and action. Brain Gym facilitates each step of the process by waking up the mind/body system, and bringing it to learning readiness. It activates full mind/body function through simple integrative movements which focus on specific aspects of sensory activation and facilitate integration of function across the body mid line.

As teachers in many cultures have intuitively recognized, numbers, letters and writing can all be taught effectively with lots of movement. Rudolph Steiner, to mention only one noteworthy example, believed in helping children to learn through the process of eurhythmia, which anchors learning with rhythm and specific coordinated movements similar to Brain Gym.

The greatest obstacle to full, widespread use of Brain Gym is the strongly held misconception in our society that mind and body are separate – that movement has nothing to do with intellect. Like the air we breathe, this particular misinformation is taken in by nearly everyone as part and parcel of our cultural heritage. People simply find it hard to believe that physical activities can help you think.

And yet many of American’s foremost brain researchers gathered in Chicago the first of May, 1995, to examine the link between movement and learning. Exercise, besides shaping up bones, muscles, heart and lungs also strengthens the basal ganglia, cerebellum and corpus callosum of the brain. Aerobic exercise increases the supply of blood to the brain. But a coordinated series of movements produces increased neurotrophins (natural neural growth factors) and a greater number of connections among neurons.

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