Saturday, November 19, 2011

Changing the Brains Wiring through Movement

I recently attended what I thought was going to be ‘just’ an introduction to neurofeedback. I knew that the company doing the presentation would be representing their business but I didn’t realize I would be a live participant in an infomercial!  The scientific basis of neurofeedback that was presented was/is intriguing and I very much enjoyed this information.  It was just enough to get me hooked on wanting to know more.  I stayed after the session to ask some questions and as I have continued to consider the responses during the conversation I didn’t quite getting the answers / information I was looking for.

I’m still mulling over this conversation, but have moved on to wondering how much physical movement, when done in a purposeful integrative way, can affect the brain wave patterns and if it can is there a lasting affect?  Through brain / body integration programs I have participated in and with those I teach I have found that the affects of integrative movement do indeed continue after the movement ends.  I have found that when under stress I am more aware that I am in a state of stress and can mentally and physically pull myself out more quickly.

I decided to search neurofeedback on the net and found many sites with similar presentations as the one I attended espousing the use of expensive technology and videos to change the brains wiring. While this may be a good thing I continued to wonder ‘What about using these types of programs in school and with students / adults who cannot afford these expensive programs yet want to make positive changes in their lives? 

Then I came across a neurofeedback site that actually supports the use of movement to help rewire the brain. I was relieved to know that there are neurofeedback organizations out there that support movement and use EEG’s to document the connection benefits of movement in changing the brain.  One of the programs that were mentioned was Bal-A-Vis-X (Balance, Auditory, Vision, eXercises).  I am glad to see that this program is beginning to be supported and used by practitioners who also use the ‘traditional’ methods.

Bal-A-Vis-X is an inexpensive brain / body integration program that uses bean bags, balls, and balance boards to develop full body coordination and focused attention with exercises that are deeply rooted in rhythm.  Bal-A-Vis-X costs very little and the results can have tremendous impact on the individual(s) using it.  The exercises are adaptable for any person whether able or disabled, young or old, and promote self-challenge while remaining fun.

For more information of Bal-A-Vis-X go to

Monday, October 17, 2011

Catch '22'

Where the eyes go so goes attention.  For students who have difficulty  “paying attention” in class, eye tracking could be the culprit.  If a students eye muscles are not fully developed to track and focus on the teacher, shift from far vision tasks (white board) to near vision tasks (desk top work space) or track the steps of lengthy division problems the student will have difficulty staying focused for any length of time. 
Students with poor tracking skills are not aware that they cannot track they just shift attention to where their eyes go.  This may give the impression that the student does not care about his/her work when in fact they may.  The more negative the response toward this perceived behavior the more likely the student will be to develop low self-esteem, begin to act out, and not care. Here lies the "Catch"

A teacher in a local elementary school recently conveyed that she has a young 5’s student who was having an extremely difficult time following (tracking) from left to right.  The teacher shared that this student’s eyes would randomly ‘dart’ up into the air and back to the page multiple times and that he was never able to hold his gaze on anything. 
The teacher had some training in a program called Bal-A-Vis-X and began doing some modified tracking exercises with the child. Bal-A-Vis-X is a movement based brain integration, auditory / visual teaming program that uses sand bags and balls to help the eye muscles develop and strengthen, allowing the student to attend more readily to instructions and focus attention.
The student is now better able to track from left to right with fewer slips as well as hold his gaze on objects for a longer period of time. The teacher credits her training in Bal-A-Vis-X for noticing that the attention problem the child was having was related primarily to eye tracking.  She also commented that the modified tracking exercises have been very beneficial and the child is beginning to experience success and develope more confidence in his learning abilities.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Children Love to Move!

Most learning in childhood is done through movement so why not use a child’s natural learning style as a method when teaching?  Yes, there are auditory and visual learners also.  This seems to speak mostly to the intake of information and how that intake is preferred.  When it comes to processing (learning) the information the majority of children process that information through movement. Be it fine (small muscles involvement) motor movement or gross (large muscle involvement) motor movement.

Using movement in the classroom as a natural method in the practice of teaching has multiple benefits for the teacher as well as the students.  Allowing students, even requiring them, to actively participate in movement based learning can decrease behavior problems (a plus for the teacher) and allow students time to process information, increase blood flow to all parts of the body and brain, and give them the opportunity to re-focus (plus for the student).

When students have the opportunity to move and process information it helps them to decrease stress and anxiety levels, as well as promote self-awareness and social interaction. It also helps to build a sense of community within the classroom.  In turn teachers ‘notice’ a decrease in behavior management issues and find they have ‘more’ time to teach.

For teachers, start small. Add one movement based activity to the subject you love to teach the most. Experiment. Build on it and as you become more comfortable with students moving (with a purpose) in your classroom ‘notice’ if time management increases and behavior management decreases.

For parents, support the teachers as they experiment, expand, and experience this addition to their tool kit of lesson presentation.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Withholding Recess as Punishment

A New School Year is a GREAT time to try some NEW  Behavior Management Techniques.

With the increasing rate of obesity in the US why does withholding recess as a means of punishment continue? Why keep students from going outside and getting rid of some of that pent up energy?  The students who are unfocused / misbehaving the most are the students who need some physical activity. Movement not only helps with focus immediately following the activity time it also allows the brain some “down time” to process previously taught material. Students will come back to class more ready to learn.

With all of the research supporting physical activity as having a positive impact on cognitive development, social success, and stress relief one would think that more time for recess and activity would be promoted!  I came across some great ideas (about 60 as a matter of fact) on a site called Peaceful Playgrounds

Many of the ideas and suggestions I found on this site are a great beginning for new teachers developing classroom management programs as well as for veteran teachers faced with increased academic demands and who have experienced the effects of decrease recess time first hand. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Where did the summer go?

As I sit here working on class schedules and syllabi I am wondering where the summer went and at the same time am truly excited for the new school year to begin. Fall is a great time for new beginnings, for teachers and students alike.  So, teachers please consider incorporating active learning into your classrooms. 

There are many sources from youtube videos to books such as Energizing Brain Breaks: Movement and Learning = Jean Blaydes Madigan Corwin:  and Kinesthetic Classroom-Teaching and Learning Through Movement=traci Lengel and Mike Kuczala to help get your year off to a GREAT start!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Why public Primary schools are desperate for specialised PE teachers

The following link has some very good points.  I would like to add that when classroom teachers take the time to incorporate movement into classroom activities while using appropriate classroom management, discipline issues decrease and there is adequate time to teach.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Under Construction

This Blog is under construction. Please enjoy while construction takes place.