Movement is the door to learning……
As children move through and complete their developmental stages, they become increasingly comfortable in their bodies and able to learn more effectively.
The ability to participate in learning and social interactions with ease and satisfaction is the byproduct of good communication from the senses, all of which need to function together with efficiency.
Part of this foundation is the healthy functioning of the CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM, nutrition, sleep, warmth, rhythm, and healthy structural alignment.
The SENSORY SYSTEMS; TOUCH (tactile), BALANCE, (vestibular), and SENSE OF SELF IN SPACE (proprioception), all contribute to the foundation.
From the interaction of these systems come all higher functions, which allow us to learn and interact socially with ease and confidence.
Our senses give us constant information about the physical conditions of our body and the environment around us. Our head is only partly responsible for receiving the information that we take in. The brain locates, sorts and orders sensations. When these sensations flow in a well-organized or integrated manner, the brain can use them to form perceptions, behaviors and learning. When the flow of sensations is disorganized, the opposite can be the case.
As food nourishes the body, so you could think of sensations as “food for the brain”. They provide the energy and knowledge needed to direct the body and mind. Without well organized sensory processes, sensations cannot be digested and nourish the brain.
Until about the age of 7, the brain is primarily a sensory processing machine. It senses things and gets meaning directly from sensations. A young child does not have many thoughts or ideas about things—he is concerned mostly with sensing them and moving his body in relation to those sensations.
As the child grows older, mental and social responses replace some of this sensory-motor activity. The brain’s mental and social functions are based upon a foundation of sensory-motor processes. The integration of the senses that occurs in moving, talking and playing is the groundwork for the more complex integration that is necessary for reading, writing and healthy behavior.
If sensory-motor processes are well organized in the first 7 years—the child will have an easier time learning mental and social skills later on.
When the child experiences challenges to which he can respond effectively, he “has fun”. A human being is designed to enjoy things that promote the development of his brain, and we naturally seek sensations that help organize our brain. This is one of the reasons children love to be picked up, rocked, and hugged and why they love to run, jump and play. They want to move because the sensations of movement nourish their brains.
Some infants with difficulties do not roll over, creep, sit or stand at the same age as other children. Later they may have trouble learning to tie shoes or ride a bicycle without training wheels. They may not move easily or gracefully. Running may be awkward, they may seem clumsy and frequently fall or stumble. He may not choose the kind of playthings that are popular with other children. Toys that require manipulation may be too much of a challenge. He may break thinks and have accidents more often than usual.
Delay in language development is a common problem in early childhood. Some children do not listen well, although they do not have hearing problems, it is as though the words entered their ears, but got lost on the way to the brain. Other children know what they want to say, but cannot direct their mouths to form the words. Without clear messages from the hands and eyes, a child cannot color between the lines, put a puzzle together, cut accurately with scissors, etc.
In every little task, he does more poorly than his peers. For him, the task is more difficult and more confusing. Adults may think that he is just not interested but he has no interest because his sensations and his responses to them do not provide him meaning and satisfaction.
Some children cannot organize the sensations from their skin. They may get angry or anxious when people touch them, or even stand nearby. Much of the hyperactivity today is due to poor integration. Sometimes lights and noises will irritate and distract the child; this can often be noticed in their faces.
Sometimes the child does everything all right at home, or at least well enough that the problem is not noticed, but has great difficulty learning in school. Reading, writing and arithmetic are often referred to as the “basics”, but they are actually extremely complex processes that can develop only upon a strong foundation.
More is often expected of a school-age child than is of a younger child. Not only must the child learn a wide variety of new things, but he must also get along with many classmates and teachers. The brain that does not organize sensations well is also apt to have trouble making friends and keeping them. School puts the child under a lot of stress, for he has to work harder to do the same tasks as his classmates. Many children with these difficulties feel helpless and anxious in school.
There are a lot of little things that a child has to do in school. ‘Without a solid foundation it is hard to learn how to tie shoelaces, hold onto a pencil, not break the lead of the pencil, change from one task to another, recognize stop signs on the way to school and so on. The child has to pay attention in a roomful of people, although he can barely pay attention when alone with his teacher. He is expected to do things fast when he can only do them slowly, or do them slowly when it is easier to move quickly. He has to remember instructions to do two things at once – such as “put away your books and get out your pencil” – when it is hard to remember even a single instruction.
In the classroom he is easily distracted by all the extraneous sounds, lights, and the confusion of many people doing different things. His brain is overly stimulated and it responds with a lot of excessive activity. He jumps all over the classroom, not because that is what he wants to do, but because his brain is trying to get things organized or keep things manageable. His excessive activity is a reaction to sensations he can neither turn off nor organize. The confusion within his brain makes it impossible to focus or concentrate, and so he cannot understand what his teacher is teaching. If he is standing in line and someone accidentally bumps into him, he may become angry or strike out. The anger and hitting have nothing to do with interpersonal relationships; they are automatic reactions to sensations the child cannot tolerate.
The child is not able to talk about these problems, nor can he understand what is going on, since the problem occurs in brain processes that are below consciousness and control. It is useless to tell him to control himself or concentrate harder. Rewards of candy or stars or punishment do not make it easier for the brain to organize sensations. Without careful parental support he is apt to grow up thinking that he is stupid or bad, especially since the other children tell him that he is.