Movement is good for brain development. The research is clear – if you want to help your children’s brain development, you need to let them move.
Right Brain Kids
Wennie Sun from TweedleWink said, “Children need to move to learn.” This was in response to a parent’s concern about her son’s “excessive” movement during class. Rather than restrict our children’s movement, we should allow it – hence the reason why they have little fitballs for kids in their classes.
Doman found that by introducing brain-damaged children to certain physical programs, they could help these children to overcome their mental deficiencies and “catch up” to normally developing children. The improvement is so remarkable that it becomes impossible to tell which child was the brain damaged child.
Bright from the Start – Jill Stamm
In Bright from the Start, Jill Stamm writes that crawling is an important stage of development that you should encourage because it helps to develop the corpus callosum (the band of fibers connecting the right and left brains). This is because your left arm and leg are controlled by your right brain and your right arm and leg are controlled by your left brain. When crawling, a baby moves forward with opposite limbs – i.e. the right arm and left leg move together while the left arm and right leg move together. This cross-coordination plays an important role in developing communication between the two halves of the brain.
If I understood that correctly, then we shouldn’t be delighted if our children skip the crawling phase altogether. If crawling is good for the corpus callosum, does that mean that the longer a baby continues to crawl, the better? Perhaps Dr Reggie’s statement on The Magic Onions doesn’t sound so overzealous after all:
We encounter proud parents who say, “My child was walking at 9 months! She didn’t even need to crawl, just up and went! Isn’t that terrific?” And what I want to say is, “No! No, that’s not terrific! Push her to the floor! Make her crawl!”
Brain Rules for Baby – John Medina
John Medina, in his latest book “Brain Rules for Baby” states – “the brain loves exercise”:
“Exercise—especially aerobic exercise—is fantastic for the brain, increasing executive function scores anywhere from 50 percent to 100 percent… Fit kids score higher on executive function tests than sedentary controls, and those scores remain as long as the exercise does. The best results accrue, by the way, if you do the exercises with your children.”
Clearly, movement and exercise is an important part of a healthy, developing brain. And it isn’t difficult to incorporate physical activity into your child’s day – ride a bike, have a romp in the garden, kick a ball at the park, go swimming (you can also teach your baby to swim in the process) – these are just a few easy ways to incorporate movement into your child’s day.
Physical Activities in the house
If you’re stuck indoors for whatever reason, you can also try these:
Another program you can try is Paul Dennison‘s Brain Gym. Brain Gym is a series of 26 exercises that help develop the whole brain and improve cognitive skills. To understand how to use Brain Gym, there are courses available for parents and educators to learn more about the program. Personally, I couldn’t see myself finding the time to attend a course so I bought Brain Gym Teacher’s Edition instead. Apparently, there are two versions of this book – make sure you get the 2010 update if you’re planning on getting a copy.
I thought it was interesting that one of the 26 movements is the cross crawl sit-up, which I believe is suppose to achieve the same thing as a baby’s crawling motion. I digress… if you want an idea of what Brain Gym involves, the following video provides a pretty good insight: