Parent Alert! The growth of your child’s brain is inseparably linked to their physical development. For children to babble, talk, think and comprehend the world, they must first have motor control. Recent research is showing that children’s motor skill development is increasingly delayed and most parents don’t even realize it. Many children today are not learning to roll, creep, crawl and walk until months later than children from previous generations. Nature has a plan and it seems we are getting in the way. I didn’t get it with my first child. I didn’t want her to cry and she hated tummy time, there were other issues at hand as well but which comes first? Chicken or egg? Hayley is now a classic example of the correlation between delayed motor skills and academic development. By the time I had my second child, also a daughter, I had a much better education in movement and Devon therefore had all the tummy time and unrestricted movement a child could want. She’s tracked (and is still tracking) at or ahead of her developmental timeline both physically and cognitively. Here’s what I learned:
Movement, specific intentional movement, drives myelination of the nerve tracks to the brain. When we don’t get the proper amount and type of movement, the electrical signals we require to succeed emotionally, socially and academically don’t travel efficiently and sometimes get lost in transit. Is lack of movement one of the causes of our increasingly labeled ADHD, ADD, SI, PDD child population?
Sally Goddard Blythe, director of the Institute for Neuro-Physiological Psychology states, Academic learning depends upon the automization of basic skills at a physical level. If a child fails to develop this automatic motor control, a teacher might observe such symptoms as reversals in reading and writing, misarticulations, poor impulse control, difficulty reading body language, or unsatisfactory peer relationships, despite good intelligence.
In our society, children’s lack of movement starts in early childhood. First it is such conveniences as car seats, Jolly Jumpers, Bumbo seats and ExerSaucers that keep them off their tummy and unable to roll, creep or crawl freely. Then electronic distracters (TV, DS, Leapfrog, Iphone, Ipad, etc) and restricted movement during long school days dominates their life. Each move away from free unrestricted movement and active play, particularly outdoor play, contributes to slower development in both motor skills and higher levels of thinking. Yes, there’s a direct connection between physical and cognitive development. Children who lack coordination and balance are not learning ready and often feel anxious and insecure. Parents, take note: the active play and exercise that your child should get daily is vital to his/her social-emotional and academic achievement.
Move with Me advocates outdoor play and regular movement instruction whenever possible, but we are also realistic about the obstacles to this ideal for many families and schools. Our imaginative yoga story DVDs are designed to bridge the play/exercise gap at home and at school so kids can enjoy a movement enrichment class anywhere with a computer or TV. Move with Me DVDs invite kids to follow-along being everything in the story, getting a balanced combination of aerobic and intentional exercise. Parents and Teachers, we invite you to support your children’s optimal development by using our program as a fun and engaging resource to keep your kids moving, even if they need to be indoors, even when in large groups.
Writer – Wendy Piret is a USNA graduate who served for 8 years as an Active Duty Naval Officer before pursuing a career working in the children’s health and fitness field. Wendy is currently a licensed Movement Education Specialist with 8 years of experience in private practice, 5 years guiding children in creative movement education classes, and the last 3 years teaching Brain Gym® workshops and seminars both privately and regionally for public and private school systems and other organizations. She is a licensed Brain Gym® Instructor, a certified Yoga Ed. Instructor and a craniosacral practitioner specializing in pediatrics.