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  • Writer's pictureGabriele Wolf PhD ND

Learning Through Movement with Brain Gym

Updated: Feb 27, 2022

The 26 Brain Gym® movements, exercises, or activities refer to the original 26 Brain Gym activities, sometimes abbreviated as the 26. These activities recall the movements naturally done during the first years of life when learning to coordinate the eyes, ears, hands, and whole body. The twenty-six activities, along with a program for “learning through movement” were developed by educator and reading specialist Dr. Paul E. Dennison and his wife and colleague, Gail E. Dennison who say that the interdependence of movement, cognition, and applied learning is the basis of their work.

Clients, teachers, and students have been reporting for over 30 years on the effectiveness of these simple activities. With all the new research into the correlation between brain function and movement, it is clear to see why these movements have worked so well, they often bring about dramatic improvements in areas such as:

  • Concentration and Focus

  • Memory

  • Academics: reading, writing, math, test taking

  • Physical coordination

  • Relationships

  • Self-responsibility

  • Organization skills

  • Attitude

In the field of neurosciences, leading thinkers like Doidge, Amen, Perry, Ratey, and Medina describe how movement stimulates the brain’s lifelong growth and plasticity. Starting in the 1970s, educator and reading specialist Dr. Paul E. Dennison began to explain learning as incremental changes in attention behavior and function. He anticipated our modern understanding of the brain by demonstrating how specific movements for eye-teaming, hand-eye coordination, and whole-body awareness bring swift improvements in reading, writing, understanding, and comprehension in students of all ages. He created a technique (Dennison Laterality Repatterning) to make these movements even more universally effective. With his wife, Gail E. Dennison, he developed a field of learning known as Educational Kinesiology (Edu-K). The original movements are now the 26 Brain Gym® activities (called “the 26” for short) – part of the broad Brain Gym curriculum for self-initiated learning.

One Edu-K premise is the inherent pleasure of the learning experience: that of using the hands, senses, and whole body to explore new ideas. This is quite different from learning that inhibits the sensory modalities through tension and strain. Human beings are natural learners. When people of all ages can look, listen, and move easily and without stress, they are curious to use their senses to interact with the world around them. Use of the 26 cultivates multisensory learning, supporting the development of healthy visual, auditory, and kinesthetic skills and improved attention and memory.

The Edu-K work meets learners where they are, supporting their current abilities while identifying and addressing those they have not yet integrated into function. Students experience three primary kinds of movement and the associated skills: sensorimotor coordination (laterality-the two-sidedness fundamental to reading, writing, listening, or speaking); stability (centering-merging one’s center of mass and center of balance, being able to self-calm); and locomotion (moving from place to place with optimal muscle length for focus and ease).

People with varied needs enjoy daily use of the Brain Gym 26 for integrating intention and function during breaks and before work, study, or sports. Some experience even more direct results in private consultations, where they set a goal and make shifts in movement patterns and behavior via Edu-K’s Five Steps to Easy Learning. The breakthroughs that occur in such private sessions can be expanded on over time.

Here is a short exercise set you can do daily, called: “Climb Your Pace Ladder.“

  1. Start by drinking a cup of water

  2. Massage your belly button with one hand and Kidney 27, 2 points located right under your collar bone right beside your sternum with the other hand.

  3. Follow with an exercise to cross over your middle line, by lifting your right knee to left elbow then left knee to right elbow, repeating for 10 to 20 times.

  4. To finish cross your right leg over left, put your arms out in front of you, cross them over, rotate with your thumbs down interlock your fingers, then pull in arms to the chest. You created a Figure 8. Close your eyes, take a deep breath through your nose and out through your mouth. Repeat 3 times. Then uncross your legs and arms. Bend your elbows bring fingertips together in front of your chest and repeat the breathing

P for Positive Do you feel ready to Begin?

A for Active Do you feel like moving?

C for Clear Are you thinking clearly?

E for Energetic Do you have energy to learn?

If you would like to evaluate your personal brain gym program, call the office: 830-322-3022 for an appointment.

Gabriele Wolf ND PhD

Source: International Kinesiology Institute and Academy

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