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  • Improving Learning Through Movement

    Did you know that physical activity and many common movements help further brain development? Getting your child active and moving is a great way to help develop their brain and improve their learning. Not sure how to get started? We’ve broken down some easy and fun movement activities you can do with your child and explained how each activity helps the brain develop. So if you’re looking for a way to work on your child’s learning while having fun, we’ve got you covered!

    Here are some simple activities that you can do at home with your child to help improve their behaviour and learning:

    1. Skipping

    Both cross-lateral skipping and skipping with a rope help the brain to develop in different ways. Cross-lateral, rhythmic skipping is particularly beneficial as it uses both hemispheres of the brain to strengthen coordination and balance. Skipping helps to cross the midline (improving the communication between the two hemispheres of the brain via the corpus callosum), improve coordination and balance, and to develop perceptual skills.

    Skipping is very easy to do at home as long as you have a bit of space. You an even encourage your child to skip from one place to another when you’re out and about together.

    2. Balance

    The cerebellum controls motor skills and balance, and is involved in motor learning. If a child has poorly developed cerebellum function they may have poor balance, coordination, gross and fine motor skills as well as poor body awareness. This can affect their ability to sit with correct posture or sit still, to write and their ability to integrate input from the sensory system.

    You can practice balance activities with your child by balancing while standing on a swing and holding onto the ropes, walking around the edging of your garden or by simply walking along a line or piece of rope or tape on the ground.

    3. Spinning and rolling

    Most kids naturally love spinning , whether it be rolling down a hill or simply standing and spinning on the spot. Actions such as spinning and rolling help to stimulate the vestibular system. The vestibular system is associated with balance and movement and is closely connected to the auditory and visual systems. It plays a large role in balance, the fight or flight reflex, attention and communication. A child with a poorly developed vestibular system may have problems with speech, auditory processing, behaviour and/or learning.

    Spinning is a great activity for brain development, however, always let your child be in control of the speed at which they spin or roll, as some children are more sensitive than others to this kind of stimulation.

    4. Jumping

    Jumping also activates the cerebellum and the vestibular. Jumping encourages coordination in your child. Even if you don’t have a trampoline, jumping can easily be worked into play time at home. For example, you can play leap frog or hopscotch. Another great way to include jumping is through animal play - you can pretend with your child to be a frog or a kangaroo!

    5. Swinging

    Due to the back and forth movement, swinging also stimulates the vestibular. When children learn to swing themselves it helps them to learn to coordinate movement, rhythm and timing, enhances their gross motor skills and strengthens their core. Even if you don’t have a swing set at home, most local parks have swings and they are just as helpful for the brain as they are fun!

    6. Animal walks

    Pretending to ‘walk’ like an animal encourages visualisation and imagination and different animal walks help integrate different reflexes. For example, ‘crab walking’ can help with a primitive reflex (spinal galant) that is often associated with excessive movement, being unable to sit still in a chair, impulsivity and bedwetting.

    Crawling on hands and knees like a dog or cat is also very beneficial for the developing brain. Crawling helps to cross the midline and develop visual tracking skills and integrate a primitive reflex know as the symmetrical tonic neck reflex. These skills help children with writing, reading and tracking words on a page. This is another simple activity you can do with your children at home. How many different styles of animal walking can you think of?

    Doing any or all of these physical activities will help your child’s brain to develop. Get in touch with us if you’d like to find out more about how movement can improve learning.

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