Brain Gym® and Energy Work…to help with homework?
Brain Gym® at home! My two girls (age 8 and 7) have a weekly spelling test day at school on a Thursday. Often they have homework that night too and are sometimes tired by the time we get around to working on the spelling lists.
To make it more fun, I incorporate what I know about Brain Gym® (previously applied in business with adults in the UK!) to help my children enjoy the learning and integrate it fully into their mind-body systems.
Brain Gym® is a phrase coined by Paul and Gail Dennison to describe physical movements which help balance our brain activity and body energy flow so that it is bilateral, rather than homolateral.
We can be in bilateral processing mode (firing on all cylinders as we might say!) when we are well-rested or have plenty of energy.
When we get tired or stressed, there is often a tendency to ‘shut down’ or go back into homolateral, or one-sided processing. More about this and the work of Carla Hannaford in another post.
Fire Up Your Brain with Brain Gym®
We can fire up our brains again by doing a couple of simple Brain Gym® exercises (and there are more to do that just these two – see below for reference) and get ourselves back into the bilateral state – without an expensive trip to Starbucks!
Here’s some great Brain Gym® reading resources that I have on my bookshelf
I have the girls do the Cross-Crawl, which is a simple exercise done standing up or sitting down, but standing is more fun and more effective.
All these exercises are based on crossing the ‘mid-line’ of the body, just imagine a vertical line bisecting your body from top to bottom, running down through the middle of your face down to your feet. That’s the mid-line.
Cross-Crawl simply means walking and as you walk, lift up your left knee and touch your right hand to it, then lift up your right knee and touch your left hand to it. Then repeat for the length of three deep breaths in and out, walking in a circle around the room.
It’s important to keep hydrated, Brain Gym® or otherwise
I always make sure the girls drink plenty of water, taking a sip while learning is always a good idea anyway. My oldest drinks sips of water when she’s doing her homework, she says it ‘fills up her brain’! So a sip of water will work here too.
Then the girls read through their spelling lists own their own and check anything they don’t understand with me.
After that, they have a Koosh ball each (there are Hedge balls too, but I like the texture of the Koosh balls better, more stimulating for the nervous system – see the picture above).
They toss the Koosh ball from hand to hand whilst speaking their spelling words, or they can rub it, roll it on their hands…as long as there’s some kind of cross-over activity with it over the mid-line of the body.
Get the Whole Body learning with Brain Gym®
They can walk around the room, dance, or whatever. They really enjoy the process, they get whole body learning with Brain Gym® so that the words are easier to remember, even under stress during the spelling test, and we all have fun!
I use the Koosh ball cross over exercise to help keep my energy flowing at the computer, so it’s also a great tool at the office, and more surreptitious than the Cross-Crawl, which you may not fancy doing at work if you have a glass-sided office.
Unless, of course, you’d like to share this with your co-workers… 🙂 Either way, just tell them you’re doing Brain Gym®.