The brain and the body are essentially connected. Movement from the body elicits growth of neural connections from infancy and beyond. But all movement is not the same. There is a specific way the brain learns from a bottom-up perspective that enables optimal functioning in all areas of growth & development.
First is our neurological foundation created by automatic movements through primitive reflexes, stimulated by sensory information in our environment. The integration of primitive reflexes lays the foundation needed for further, optimal learning in motor skills that lead to higher-level learning. It also assists in sensory integration.
Next we develop core strength and posture. Once primitive reflexes are integrated we are able to move each body part independently giving us volitional control of our movements. We develop postural reflexes that help us stand upright and in turn develop core strength to move and flow through our lives.
Then skill development occurs. The eight essential movements will be covered below. This includes specific skills each child needs in order to have optimal brain connections and connectivity between the right & left hemispheres. Any area of weakness will be seen with challenges in higher-level academic learning.
Finally, once our neurological foundation is strong, and essential motor skills develop, our brain is ready to learn. It can take in new concepts such as math, reading, comprehension, and organization. These four stages are depicted below in the Pyramid of Development & Learning.
Let’s breakdown what the essential motor skills for academic achievement are (depicted in the integration & connections portion of this pyramid).
#1 Core Strength & Posture
core strength and posture give us the ability to stand upright, sit upright in class, and observe our environment. We are able to use our visual senses to scan & track better in an upright posture, and move our body freely with good postural alignment.
#2 Body Awareness
having body awareness allows your child to navigate the environment safely. They can move through crowded hallways without bumping into people, walk over curbs, and do higher-level sports skills. When we have body awareness we have more emotional empathy and better social skill development.
balance is essential for attention, focus, and visual-motor skills. Balance and core strength give our bodies cues on staying upright, and moving from our center. We can attend better in class and focus on our assignments.
#4 Visual-motor Skills
visual-motor skills are essential for reading, writing, handwriting, copying from the blackboard, and all movement activities including ball skills, etc.
#5 Cross-body Movements (R/L connectivity)
crossing the midline is essential for a strong corpus callosum (the super highway that connects our right and left brain hemispheres). Balance between the hemispheres allows us to track words across a page, use both our analytical & creative skills, and have good emotional regulation.
#6 Bilateral Integration
bilateral integration is essential for all tasks needing to use both arms together: holding a paper or book, using both arms for a science project, or in gym class with ball skills.
#7 Eye-hand Coordination
eye-hand coordination is essential for all paper & pencil activities. Teaming the eyes together with movements of the hands makes it easier to take notes while listening and multi-tasking. Research also shows eye-hand coordination strengthens the connections between right & left brain hemispheres.
#8 Timing & Rhythm
timing and rhythm are essential for social skills, language, and processing speed. When we strengthen the ability to move to a beat, we can improve cognitive processing which helps with comprehension, speech, and organizationals skills.
As you can see, purposeful movement is essential to wire the brain for academic achievement. When our children have any gaps in their neurological foundation or skill development, we can re-wire areas of the brain by performing these movements on a consistent daily basis. Starting with reflex & sensory integration, then moving towards skill development activities to help fill in any gaps or delays.
Our ‘Connextions Brain Training‘ membership provides parents & children with step-by-step written instructions for daily “brain training” movements, along with a video that children can follow-along too. The activities are geared towards school-age children through adults. You’ll receive two videos to complete each week — 2x/day, 10 minutes each video. We recommend children complete 4-6 months of essential skill development to enhance their cognitive skills, memory, organization, reading, learning, behavior, attention, coordination, and language.