Jun 182014

Does your child need Brain Gym exercises for left-brain, right-brain processing?

You may find Brain Gym exercises to be a good way help your child overcome coordination difficulties in particular.  Using Brain Gym exercises for breaks during your school day can lead to better focus. That will also help your child learn better.

Brain Gym is an effective and easy program to implement. The Brain Gym exercises are relatively easy. One exercise has your child make a large, sideways figure eight with his arm extended in front of his body.  Another exercise involves bending over, dangling the arms with clasped hands, and swinging the arms like an elephant’s trunk.  Since the brain gym exercises pictures in the books are copyrighted, I can’t provide them here. However, you can buy a book with the exercises pictured for a low cost on Amazon.

**Brain GymBrain Gym exercises is a type of exercise program designed to enhance learning. The Brain Gym exercises can be done one-at-a-time or in an exercise routine. These brain-based learning exercises can help your child with attention deficits, coordination issues, memory deficits, stamina, and other difficulties that affect learning.

The **Brain Gym Teacher’s Manual allows you to create a physical therapy types of routine targeted to your child’s deficit areas. The book has explanations about the the whys and how Brain Gym works. The book lists each type of exercise. It also tells what areas of functioning the exercise targets and has drawings of how to do the exercise. It also gives a recommended number of daily repetitions. The information categories for the book lists for each exercise are:

“Teaching Tips” – Ways you can increase the effectiveness of the exercise.

“Variations” – How the exercise that can be changed to enhance your child’s interest and lower boredom with the same old thing every day.

“Activates the brain for…” (crossing the midline, eye movements, spatial awareness, eye-hand coordination, short or long-term memory, saccadic eye movements, expressive speech, organization skills, attention/focus, etc.).

“Academic Skills” addressed by this exercise (spelling, writing, listening, reading, comprehension, following directions, memory, etc.).

Also included in the listings for each exercise is information about:

“Behavior and Postural Correlates” (coordination, breathing, stamina, increased energy, spatial awareness, hearing, vision, left/right awareness, body awareness, movement skills, etc.).

“Related Movements” – Other exercises that go well with this one, (which saves you time in putting together a routine to target a specific area).

and “History of the Movement” – tells about how this exercise was determined to help develop the skills being targeted. This section gives information about origin of the exercise and provides information on how it was first used.

When I set up my boy’s programs, I used the book to determine which exercises would be best for each son. Then I set up a routine using the exercises that son needed. In our household, the Brain Gym was used mostly as a tool for overcoming physical “awkwardness.” It was also used to help an ADHD mind focus on learning tasks long enough to complete them.

As with any physical therapy program, progress is slow. However, these days my ADHD child has NO problem focusing on a lesson long enough to get it done. My formerly physically uncoordinated child no longer has that problem.

How much of our progress is maturation vs. Brain Gym, I cannot say. However, I do know that having an exercise break between each lesson and doing one of the exercises does make schoolwork more fun. At a minimum it gets the oxygen flowing to the brain again. That makes for better thinking. 😉

For us, each child had a list of exercises. He would do one exercise on the list, work a lesson, do the next exercise on the list, work a lesson, and so on. Just getting up between lessons helps! In any case, you get a lot of bang for your buck in the one little book – The Brain Gym Teacher’s Manual.

For anyone who decides to use Brain Gym, here’s my own “Teaching Tip”: For each exercise you put in your child’s routine, copy that page of the book. Cut out the drawing of the exercise. Paste it on your child’s list of exercises. It is a great visual queue to remind your child what the exercise is, rather than just having the name of an exercise on a list. I made a poster with columns for each son. The name of each exercise was listed with it’s picture. That worked well. 😉

We used the Brain Gym Teacher’s Manual to enhance our at-home, brain-based learning. You can get other Brain Gym books also. I found our book, from Edu-Kinesthetics, Inc., to be complete in every way.

Other Cognitive Programs Recommended for Home Use are:

**Lexia Learning’s CrossTrainer – “The Lexia Cross-Trainer Suite is designed to improve cognitive development in learners ages 7 to adult. The software helps learning disabled, special needs, and mainstream students strengthen their thinking, memory, and problem-solving abilities. It works to improve performance across subjects as varied as reading, math, science, and social studies.”

**Audiblox – Program which is administered by the parent/provider. This program requires a commitment to consistent use and helps with many issues.

Earobics – Computer-based program that is easily used on a daily basis. The program has a game play format that children enjoy. Earobics increases cognitive skills, but is geared more towards children with auditory processing difficulties or dyslexia.

**PACE (Processing and Cognitive Enhancement) – Tutoring model; requires commitment to tutoring sessions and home exercises.