Brain Gym Exercises
Brain Gym, developed by Paul E. and Gail E. Dennison, is a “series of simple and enjoyable movements that we use with our students in Educational Kinesiology to enhance their experience of whole-brain learning”. The book features chapters on Midline Movements, Lengthening Activities, Energy Exercises and Deepening Attitudes, and Brain Gym at Work and Play. This article will discuss some of the exercises in the Midline Movement section and how they can be implemented to help children who are struggling. (Brain Gym, 1989)
The Midline Movements include the cross crawl, lazy 8’s, double doodles, alphabet 8’s, the elephant, neck rolls, the rocker, belly breathing, cross crawl sit-ups, the energizer, and “think of an X”. The Midline movements work to improve bilateral movement skills, increase upper-body coordination (for gross motor and fine motor skills), and help to further activate the brain. One of the easiest to begin with is the cross crawl. This is a contra lateral exercise and requires alternate movement of arm and leg. There are several variations of this exercise, and one can sit, lie, or stand to do these variations. Reach behind the body to touch the opposite foot. Crawl across the floor in slow motion. Raise one hand and the opposite knee at the same time, alternating hands and knees. Do sit ups and touch the elbow to the opposite knee. Touch one hand to the opposite knee, raising the leg, or touch the foot, raising the leg. This exercise should help improve writing, spelling, listening, reading and comprehension, as well as coordination, breathing and stamina, spatial awareness, and enhance hearing and vision. Implement 10 reps once a day.
Another one I like to use is the Lazy 8’s. This allows for crossing of the visual midline. The child should align his body with a point at eye level, and then draw a lazy 8 (a numeral 8 lying on its side), the larger the better. Chalkboards or marker boards work great for this. Then the child follows the 8, three times with one hand, three times with the other, and then both together. This can be done with chalk or markers, and even can be used with scarves swirled in the motion. This can also be done on paper, at a desk, and smaller, although it is better to begin with the larger pattern. I even have had one child do this with a sparkler in the air over the 4th of July! This exercise should help the mechanics of reading, in symbol recognition (decoding), and reading comprehension. It will also help with relaxation of eyes, neck, and shoulders, improve depth perception, and should help improve balance, centering, and coordination.
Both of these exercises can be implemented daily, and parents can make them fun for children by adding music, colors, and participating in them with the children. These exercises can also be used when kids are “stuck” in bad behaviors and making bad choices. Both the Brain Gym book and the Teacher’s Edition are available for purchase at the Life’s Garden stores in both office locations. I will discuss some of the other exercises in following newsletters.Tags: brain gym, cross crawl, midline movements to improve bilateral movement
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Licensed Independent Mental Health Practitioner
Licensed Professional Counselor
Advanced Clinical HypnoTherapist
- Deb England began working part-time for Wholeness Healing Center in September 2004 and began full-time in May 2005. Deb practices primarily in the Broken Bow office and one day a week in the Grand Island office. Previously she had completed her practicum and internship at Morning Star Alliance, working in the Broken Bow and Grand Island offices.
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