Learning to read is one of life’s great joys, but for some children, it can also be one of life’s biggest frustrations.
The most important thing is to make sure that children have a solid foundation of brain pathways that pave the way for learning to occur. Thankfully, it doesn’t take much extra effort on a parent’s part. All we need to do is to find ways for them to move. Movement is the golden key. If we can somehow make the movement fun, the child will engage in the movement with joy.
Any and every movement is important. Climbing, swinging, crawling, sliding, bouncing, rolling, rocking, canoeing, cycling, surfing, skipping, jumping, hopping, hanging, monkey bar-ing and just plain old frolicking around!
Movement helps to integrate the two hemispheres of the brain and make the ‘pathways’ into ‘highways’! The stronger the road, the more traffic it can take, and the more attention it will continue to receive to make sure it stays functional and strong. Just like on a real road.
Strong integration across the brain is vital for the language foundation (and all learning actually). Integration assists the child to read across the blackboard or whiteboard or screen, transfer words to the page, read and transcribe across double pages in their books, and use tools to write independently. Without integration, a child can strike difficulty.
The critical piece of the puzzle is to get our children MOVING! We need to turn off the television, computer, video games and screens and pull them up off their little bottoms so they can activate their own personal computer (the one inside their head that has infinitely more potential power than anything else in their world) by moving their bodies.
Here are 7 fun things you can do to help get your new movement regime started.
1. Take your bikes down to the beach and take a family ride along a bike pathway. Stop for a family brunch then ride back.
2. Rev up at the skate park. Scoot, skate or bike it.
3. Kick a ball on the local field. Dribble the ball between markers, weaving in and out or rope a few sideliners into a game of tunnel ball or captain ball, those old school favourites.
4. Play traditional games. Ring a Ring a Rosy is a good start. Can you think of a game that requires children to weave around a couple of chairs/seats in a figure of eight? Search Youtube for instructions on how to play Oranges and Lemons, or London Bridge is Falling Down. Set an example for imitation so they can copy your movements. Play it with them until the knowledge consolidates or until you find some friendly teenagers who will happily join in. If a child is really struggling to follow a direction or ‘get’ a particular movement, lead them by the hand through it until their feet almost direct them.
5. Give them a HUGE sheet of paper and give them a ‘doodle’ challenge. (Your local newspaper may sell you the end of rolls for a few dollars- these are great.) Draw a few large squiggly lines across the empty paper and invite the children to make something out of them, like Mr Squiggle. Laugh together at your efforts.
6. Roll down gentle hills with your children. Laugh out loud.
7. Try grass skiing, or snow skiing if it is winter. Skiing is a wonderful opportunity for co-ordination, cross body movement and spatial awareness that aids to develop brain pathways.
And what about us as adults? When we stop exercising our arm muscles, they soon become flabby and loose. Result? Tuckshop arms and cottage cheese tummies. The brain is like another muscle. If we too busy to exercise it, or are lazy or sloth-like in front of the television, our muscle goes flabby. The saying “What you don’t use, you lose” is very true of brain function. But it’s never to late to solve the problem.
So, what are you sitting down for? Grab your children, and get outside!! Be creative in your movement masterpieces on a daily basis. Ultimately, to give our children their best shot at succeeding in school and in life, we need a new quote. Here it is. Make movement your mantra!
This post was written by Amber Greene … a Writer and Parenting Educator whose motto in life is to ‘Fire up your Creative Spark!” She helps women and children around the globe to unveil their creative powers. Amber provides creative strategies for parenting and supports parents to increase their confidence and find more joy and fun in the busy daily slog. Visit her at www.mamamoontime.com for a daily dose of creative inspiration, and free art and crafty activities for both mama and child.