Move Your Body, Energize Your Brain

Briana Hurst ADD, ADD / ADHD, ADHD, Anxiety, Attention, Classroom, Core Learning Skills, Development, Developmental delays, General Information, Homeschool, Homework, IEP, Learning disabilities, Learning Disability, Primitive Reflexes, School 0 Comments

Have you ever sat in a long meeting or seminar and found yourself getting sleepy, antsy, and dying for a break so you could get up and move around?

Research shows that physical movement can enhance clarity, attention, and readiness for learning.  Physical movement increases oxygen flow to the brain, improving alertness, concentration, and receptivity.  Adding movement or physical action to a learning activity increases recall.

At the Learning Center, we find that integrative movements that cross the midline of the body are extremely helpful in bringing students to a calm, alert, and mentally and emotionally ready state for learning.

Periodic brain breaks that involve movement throughout the school day and homework time will also improve learning, productivity, and attitude.

Here are some references for fun, quick, movement exercises that can be easily integrated into the classroom, clinic, or home:

Brain Gym Teacher’s Edition by Paul E. Dennison and Gail E. Dennison  (www.braingym.com)

Hands On: How to use Brain Gym in the Classroom  by Isabel Cohen and Marcelle Goldsmith  (www.braingym.com)

Move It:  Physical Movement and Learning by Alistair Smith (www.networkpress.co.uk/MI)

Brain Breaks (www.alite.co.uk/information/brain_breaks)

Deep breathing and water are also great brain energizers.  Deep breathing immediately brings more oxygen to the brain and encourages relaxation, improving thinking and focus.  Water improves the electrical transmissions in the brain and nervous system, providing energy for learning and attention.

Movement Breaks and Struggling Students

For students who struggle in school, recess may be their “best subject” of the day.  They need the movement and mental break in order to re-focus and do their best in the classroom.

The same is absolutely true with homework.  It may be hard to give your kids periodic 5 – 15 minutes break in homework because you don’t want to add any more time to the hours you’re already spending.  But the bottom line is, that a few brain breaks may actually reduce the amount of time you have to spend.

Why Do Smart Kids Struggle?

Reading, writing, spelling, math, social, and school skills are supported by numerous underlying learning skills.   If one or more of these underlying skills is weak, it will cause the student to have to work harder, longer, and less effectively than expected.

But the brain is amazing!  Brain research over the last 30 years and the decades of clinical work in the trenches actually working with children and adults with learning challenges, have shown that these underlying learning skills can be developed.  The brain can change.  New, more efficient neuropathways, or connections in the brain, can be made so that learning can be easier.  Once the brain is getting the information it needs, it can do the job it is meant to do – to learn!

Need to know more??

JOIN US for a FREE Parent Information Night

For information and RSVP go to www.learningdisability.com

 

“Helping smart but struggling students dramatically improve or completely correct their learning and attention challenges by developing the underlying learning skills that are not supporting the learner well enough.”
We serve children and adults with diagnosed or undiagnosed learning and attention challenges including learning disabilities, dyslexia, ADHD, auditory processing disorders, and autism spectrum disorders.
Jill Stowell, M.S.
Author:  At Wit’s End A Parent’s Guide to Ending the Struggle, Tears, and Turmoil of Learning Disabilities
Founder and Executive Director – Stowell Learning Centers

Frankie’s Story- The Catalyst for Change

Briana Hurst Classroom, Development, Developmental delays, Dyslexia, Executive Function, General Information, Homeschool, Homework, IEP, Learning disabilities, Learning Disability, Mental Health, Poor grades, Reading, School, Spelling 0 Comments

Last week I attended a media training event and was interviewed by Mike Koenigs.  He asked me about the root of my passion for correcting learning and attention challenges.  And I remembered a student, a 12-year-old boy…

Thirty-five years ago, I was teaching special education in a public school when Frankie slouched through my door.  He was very bright and kind of charming, but belligerent and a little scary at the same time.  At 12, he was already entrenched in a gang and everyone in the school, including the teachers, knew not to mess with Frankie.

Frankie was coming to see me because he couldn’t read or write.  I really liked him and I promised him I’d teach him to read, but I failed him.  I didn’t know how to get to the root of the problem.  I didn’t even know what the root of the problem was.

Frankie didn’t think he could learn, but I just knew that couldn’t be right.  I left the public schools and went in search of the experts around the world who were doing the clinical research in the field.

What I found was that learning is like a continuum. School subjects are at the top of the continuum, but there are whole sets of underlying skills, such as memory, attention, and auditory and visual processing, that must be in place in order to learn easily up at the top of the continuum.  These skills are not taught in schools or traditional tutoring; they are assumed.  When any of these skills are weak, it’s like working at the top of a ladder when some of the rungs are not stable.  It’s always going to be harder because a lot of your mental energy and attention has to go to not falling off the ladder.

The brain research over the last 30 years has shown us that the brain can change – literally be rewired through intensive and targeted training.  If we want to permanently change dyslexia or a learning disability, we have to identify and develop the underlying skills that are at the root of the problem.

It breaks my heart to think what may have happened to Frankie as an intelligent, frustrated, non-reader, particularly with his early gang affiliation, because I know now, that at least the non-reader part of the story could have been different.

After 33 years of working with children and adults with learning and attention challenges, I know that most of these challenges can be dramatically improved or completely corrected.  It takes identifying and developing the weak underlying skills that are at the root of the problem so that the academic skills can be remediated and stick!

If you or your child struggles with learning or attention and you’re ready for real change, we invite you to …

JOIN US for a FREE Parent Information Night.

For information and RSVP go to www.learningdisability.com

 

“Helping smart but struggling students dramatically improve or completely correct their learning and attention challenges by developing the underlying learning skills that are not supporting the learner well enough.”
We serve children and adults with diagnosed or undiagnosed learning and attention challenges including learning disabilities, dyslexia, ADHD, auditory processing disorders, and autism spectrum disorders.
Jill Stowell, M.S.
Author:  At Wit’s End A Parent’s Guide to Ending the Struggle, Tears, and Turmoil of Learning Disabilities
Founder and Executive Director – Stowell Learning Centers

Is Poor Executive Function Getting Your Child in Trouble?

Briana Hurst Auditory Processing, Classroom, Core Learning Skills, Development, Executive Function, General Information, Homeschool, Homework, IEP, Learning disabilities, Learning Disability, Primitive Reflexes, School 1 Comment

The bell rings.  Eleven-year-old Kasey explodes from her desk and races out the door, knocking into a few desks, trampling a few toes, and elbowing several classmates out of the way.  She is SO ready for recess and trots off to grab a ball before anyone else does.

Kasey has no idea that there is a problem.  After all, the bell rang and all she’s doing is going outside for recess!  But once again, she is in trouble and her parents are going to get a call because she knocked a classmate down as she jettisoned out the door.

Kasey is a nice, well-meaning kid, but she has very poor executive function skills.  She is unable to self-monitor and manage her attention and behavior.  She wouldn’t purposely knock other students down, but she is impulsive and doesn’t mentally predict or evaluate the consequences of her actions.

Executive function skills are high-level self-management skills that develop all the way through childhood, but don’t completely develop until about age 25.  Most students need some guidance in developing executive function, and some, like Kasey, need a great deal of intentional, guided, and monitored instruction.

Steps to Helping Children and Teens Develop Executive Function

Learning to create and use strategies to monitor and evaluate be­havior and attention is literally training executive function. Applying the use of strategies to problem solving of any kind involves:

  • Awareness that there is a problem
  • Identifying exactly what the problem is
  • Coming up with possible solutions or strategies
  • Evaluating how well each strategy will work and what the outcome will be
  • Deciding on the best solution
  • Committing to trying it
  • Evaluating whether the outcome was what was expected
  • Modifying the strategy as needed

These are steps we can use to help children develop executive function and study skills. Through dialoguing, modeling, practicing, and evaluating together, children become more and more capable of managing their own behavior, choices, attention, and studies.

Applying these Steps for Kasey

Awareness that there is a problem

Parent or teacher re-enact the scene with Kasey, helping her notice the things and people she bumps or tramples as she races for the door.

Identify exactly what the problem is

Kasey has weak auditory processing and language skills, so sitting in a class that requires listening and note-taking is like torture for her.  By the time the bell rings, she’s ready to jump out of her skin.  The problem for Kasey, is that she is so uncomfortable by the end of class that she just has to get out of the class and move, NOW!

Come up with possible solutions or strategies

Possible Solution #1:  Kasey could be released for recess early

Possible Solution #2:  Kasey could sit right next to the door

Possible Solution #3:  Kasey could be restricted from going to recess every time she races out the door

Possible Solution #4:  Kasey could sit closer to the door and be put in charge of opening the door for recess

Dialogue to evaluate how well each strategy will work and what the outcome will be

#1:  Could keep other students from getting knocked around, but it may cause Kasey to miss assignments given at the end of the period and cause other students to be mad at her for going to recess early

#2:  Kasey can get out the door quickly without having to navigate through the rest of the students.  This meets Kasey’s need to move and the teacher’s need to keep other students safe.  It does not take any extra time.

#3:  This might eventually help Kasey remember not to run out the door, but does not meet her need to move.

#4:  Giving Kasey the responsibility of opening the door for the class (and teaching class that they are to wait until door is opened before heading for the door) gets Kasey to the door first and gives her something important to do that provides a reason to be less impulsive and more intentional about going to the door.

Kasey and her teacher can decide on the best solution (either #2 or #4).  Both need to commit to trying it for a given amount of time (1 – 5 days) and then evaluate together how it is working.  They need to modify the strategy as needed.

If solution #2 was chosen, they might find that Kasey is still impulsively racing out the door, though no one is in her way.  To help Kasey be more intentional about controlling her impulsiveness and speed, they might decide to try solution #4, with the caveat that a leader has to be an example. The teacher might (privately) have Kasey role play / practice several times saying to herself, “When the bell rings, I walk slowly to the door” and then do it.

This strategy is worth the time it takes, as it helps students to become more independent and responsible and feel better about themselves.

When students such as Kasey struggle in school, it is usually because there are weak underlying learning/processing skills that are not supporting the learner well enough.  Correcting the real root of Kasey’s challenges will involve developing the underlying auditory and language processing skills so that she doesn’t have to feel like she’s going to jump out of her skin by the end of the lecture.

The great news is that the underlying skills needed for students to be successful, independent learners can be developed.  If you or your child are struggling with learning, attention, or executive function challenges and you’re ready for a real change…

JOIN US for a FREE Parent Information Night!

For details and RSVP go to www.learningdisability.com

 

“Helping smart but struggling students dramatically improve or completely correct their learning and attention challenges by developing the underlying learning skills that are not supporting the learner well enough.”
We serve children and adults with diagnosed or undiagnosed learning and attention challenges including learning disabilities, dyslexia, ADHD, auditory processing disorders, and autism spectrum disorders.
Jill Stowell, M.S.
Author:  At Wit’s End A Parent’s Guide to Ending the Struggle, Tears, and Turmoil of Learning Disabilities
Founder and Executive Director – Stowell Learning Centers