Movement can address learning difficulties


Mom’s rush their kids off to extra maths classes, tutor classes, reading programs and countless more, all in an effort to help our children overcome difficulties they experience. As parents we all have our child’s best interest at heart, we want our children to do well at school, to be happy and balanced, however, often learning difficulties have physical causes and as a result the extra classes they attend do not yield the results we hope for.
Physical causes? You may wonder what reading problems or difficulties with mathematics have to do with my child’s physical development? 
Your child’s brain is built in the same way we build a house
Common problems, causing learning difficulties, which originate from cracks in the foundation, are:
  • Difficulty crossing the midline. 
  • Poor attention span and inability to concentrate.
  • Poor posture and poor muscle control.
  • ADD and ADHD.
  • Poor listening skills.
  • Difficulty crossing the visual midline, making reading a nightmare.
How can we help our children?
Abs trainer:
Lie flat on your back touching the opposite knee and elbow, while turning your head up, down, left and right. Repeat 10 times 
Why the Abs trainer?
This exercise improves the core muscles, and posture. It also helps with crossing the visual midline, helping with reading, writing and drawing.
Antennae adjuster:
Why the Antennae adjuster?
This move develops the near senses, auditory processing, auditory perception as well as receptive language ability.

Bilateral integrator
Why the Bilateral integrator?
This develops rhythm, eye-hand coordination, focal and peripheral vision, left and right integration in preparation for fluent speaking, reading and writing.

Bilateral walk
Why the Bilateral walk?
This movement stimulates left-right integration through crossing the lateral midline and is best done first lying down and then standing up. Repeat at least 10 times. It integrates the left and right parts of the brain and body, while crossing the midline. 

Let us compare a child’s brain development to building a house. The first thing we must do is build a strong foundation. The foundation is the physical part of development, the best time for development of the physical phase is conception to 14 months. During this period the child must survive (feeding, breathing, sleeping) the child must also reach all physical milestones (being born, sucking, rolling, sitting, crawling and walking). In this phase of development the brain gives all of its attention and energy to the physical development because this is extremely important. Every muscle movement that a child makes builds pathways in the brain, these pathways wire the brain for learning one day. When a child did not move enough, did not reach milestones in order and did not strengthen their muscles, there are cracks in the foundation. These cracks can, later on in life, manifest as learning difficulties.
The next part of the house is the walls, windows and doors, in brain development it is the emotional and social development. The best time for development of the emotional and social phase is 14 months to 4 years. A child must first feel emotionally secure (attachment and bonding with caregiver) before a child can function socially. Once again as with physical development when there are problems during this part of development there are cracks in the walls.
The last part is the roof or the thinking part of the brain, it is this part that we as parents and teachers put all or most of our focus on. The problem is we try to fix the roof (or thinking difficulties) like reading, mathematics, speech problems with more thinking exercises such a tutor or extra classes when in fact the origins of the problem could be in the foundation or walls of the house. 
Read our article on how to get active with your kids here.

Ensure that your baby and young child move as much as possible, this must be their natural and unassisted movement, thus not with the aid of all sorts of furniture such as walking rings, also ensure that they reach each milestone in order. It is really important that children also learn to control movement, they must learn to STOP as well. For older children and children already experiencing learning difficulties here are a few very helpful Mind Moves from Mind Moves – moves that mend the mind by Dr. Melodie De Jager.
Visit www.mindmoves.co.za for more information on how movement can support academic performance. 
You might also want to read about how music and movement can wire your child's brain to learn.