Saturday, November 15, 2008

Smart Moves

My potty book is currently a book titled Smart Moves: Why Learning is Not all in Your Head by Carla Hannaford. I picked up the book at a homeschool curriculum fair this past Summer because in its center are exercises designed to improve concentration which I wanted to use with the children. I really didn't mean to read the whole book until I decided maybe I should read at least as far as the exercises lest I miss some vital piece of explanation about how to do them. I am so glad I decided to jump in. It's been a bit hairy as the writing is rather technical and reading it in dribs and drabs (so to speak..teehee) has caused me to go back and read and re-read just to keep focused but it is convicting me that some long-held supicions of mine are actually true.

The author is discussing how brain function is related to movement. She puts forth the importance of movement in order for healthy brain development to happen at all stages of life - from pre-natal to death (I just read the assertion that elderly people who dance or play an instrument are much less prone to Alzheimer's and dimentia). This sounds reasonable and perhaps even obvious but when you begin to look at how our culture views the link between motion and learning we can see how well-accepted methods just don't work to optimize brain power.

How often do we tell children to essentially sit down and shut up? We want the feet of their chairs on the floor, their legs facing forward, their pencil held correctly, their bodies erect with no tapping, humming, knee jerking or gum chewing. When reading a book, they should be reading silently without whispering or moving fingers along the words. And here's the one that gets me - I don't know how many times I've heard the stories of motion-charged children being denied recess if they couldn't sit still. The author of this books presents that none of us can learn without motion because it is the motion, the use of muscles, that solidifies the information in our brains and builds up all those nifty little chemicals and connections necessary for true mastery of a subject. Even just talking about a subject exercises muscles in the jaw and face (and hands for the more animated among us) which helps to fix the subject in our brains.

It's all very fascinating to me and is turning on its head some of the ways we do things around here with our homeschooling subjects. This is definitely a good read - particularly for anyone parenting a struggling learner.

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