Movement and Learning

When looking at our educational system and society, in general, you will find that children are often treated as small adults, hurried along and often pushed to skip steps on the path of development. We see this from the time they are babies when we sit them up in positions they cannot yet hold for themselves, or let them walk before they crawl. We see it in Kindergartens and even preschools that choose drill exercises over free play. With our increased amount of time spent indoors, coupled with diminishing unstructured outdoor play, we are seeing a cataclysmic decline in children’s natural movement.

A child’s physical development has been laid out by nature in such a way that it supports the brain’s development and activity. In order for later learning to be successful, the body must be developed through nature’s way of training the brain. Children are naturally inclined to do this sort of training: skipping, hopping, jumping, balancing, crossing fallen trees, jumping stones, climbing trees, etc.

This type of movement involves what is called “crossing the midline,” or crossing the body in a variety of increasingly difficult moves with the right and left limbs. This supports the brain in myelinating the neurons from the right and left side for balanced functioning.

Reading, writing, sitting still, focusing, and processing abstract information all require this balance of the right and left sides of the brain. When the child has mastered this balance on a physical level, we can be assured that they are prepared for academic learning.

When those physical skills are not yet in place, and yet we still push children forward into academic work, we see evidence of many of the learning difficulties so common in today’s age: inattention, lack of concentration or focus, hyperactivity, and a variety of learning disorders.

For more information on movement’s effect on learning disabilities, check out this great article: Is Our Educational System Contributing to Attentional and Learning Difficulties in Our Children?

At NUA Sparrow, we are conscious of this need and purposeful in providing plenty of opportunities for this movement. It is evident in our circle times in which we sing and recite poems with rhythm and movement that crosses the midline. Specific motor-skill practice, practical movement and free play are visible in our outdoor games, gardening, and Independent Learning times.

NUA Sparrow also encourages healthy nutrition, adequate sleep, and limiting screen time, all of which remarkably amplify the success of what is happening in the classroom and in the child’s brain. We respect the child’s natural development, and by valuing what children need, we assure that their learning will be successful.

By Alexandra Ott

P.S.
Here’s that link again. Very interesting reading! Is Our Educational System Contributing to Attentional and Learning Difficulties in Our Children?

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