Movement is the key to learning. Our brains fully develop through movement activities such as crawling, rolling, turning, walking, skipping, reaching, swinging and much more. The brain has a plan for development that involves specific and intensive motor activities to make full use of our complicated nervous systems. If you want your child to learn a skill, create a way for them to move while doing it. Our daughter, Hannah, has spelling words every week. One way she likes to practice them is by bouncing a ball back and forth with one of us while saying a letter on each bounce.
Many parents will apologize to me in class that their toddler or preschooler will not sit down, sit still, just listen. That is fine with me. Just because I child is moving around through the room, doesn’t mean he isn’t listening, learning or observing. Many of these same parents have commented that the child then does something at home that we did in class, and they didn’t even think he was paying attention.
When I taught public school, we had a little boy in seventh grade who paid much better attention and was in far less trouble when given a stress ball to manipulate during classes such as English and math.
There is much research about the connection between moving and learning. A book I am currently reading is Smart Moves – Why Learning Isn’t All In Your Head by Carla Hannaford. Not only does moving help children learn, but it can also help concentration, behavior and mood. Is anyone surprised? I would say it isn’t just children that need to move but everyone.
I know where we live we have had a long winter of many snow days, bitterly cold days, days where the family is cooped up inside together. The temptation and tendency is to allow lots of television/movie watching, board game playing, book reading etc. None of these activities is bad – I’m not saying that at all. But, the less we move, the more irritable, bored and grumpy we get. Time to turn on the music and get us moving. It takes some coaxing – especially of the teenager – but it is so worth it. Getting the blood circulating, hearing some upbeat, lively music, and using our bodies as well as our brains soon gets everyone in better spirits, less bored and feeling better all around.
Here are some of my favorite family dance tunes:
Don’t Worry Be Happy, Surfin USA, If You’re Happy and You Know It, I’m a Believer.
If you need music for dancing, or ideas for new songs, why not check out play.kindermusik.com for family friendly tunes. You can search by many different categories.