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Educational Kinesiology

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Movement is the door to learning.” – Dr. Paul Dennison

Edu-K

Educational Kinesiology (Edu-K for short) was developed by Dr. Paul Dennison in the 1980’s. The word ‘kinesiology’ simply means movement. All the way back in the 1980’s, Dr. Dennison discovered that “Movement is the door to learning” (1).

Dr. Paul Dennison has a doctorate in education and, in 1975, he received the Phi Beta Kappa award for Outstanding Research from the University of Southern California. The theory and practice of Educational Kinesiology and Brain Gym* have been researched and used all over the world, including extensively in the U.S. As much time as you have available, you can spend reading the hundreds of studies that have been published, and are still being published, showing the efficacy of Brain Gym* and Edu-K. In 1990 the National Science Foundation named Brain Gym* as one of the top technologies for the 1990’s and beyond.

Switched off

According to Dr. Paul Dennison and others, when a child or adult is under stress, certain parts of the brain become less active. With chronic stress, chronic imbalances occur, which interfere with learning and with thinking clearly. Think of the child or adult who becomes anxious, and suddenly finds himself unable to think or to speak clearly. Or, “My mind just went blank.”

Dr. Dennison calls this type of experience being “switched off.” The Brain Gym* exercises are designed to “switch on” the brain and get it working in an integrated way, once more.

Brain Gym*

Several decades ago, Dr. Dennison developed a set of fun and simple exercises, which have been found to help the brain to function much more effectively. These exercises help the person – child or adult – to function as an integrated whole.

Some of the exercises are for centering, some are for focusing, and some are to correct laterality (right/left) problems. Some of them work on the vision problems mentioned in our section on Vision and Learning. Some processes called repatterning, or balancing, target specific imbalances that are found to cause problems.

If someone is not integrated laterally, meaning that the right and left sides of the brain and body are not coordinated, this can pose a problem for many activities, including reading, where the eyes must smoothly scan the page from left to right. If you have ever seen a young child going up and down stairs, always leading with one foot, rather than alternating feet, this is homolateral action.

Homolateral behavior is appropriate at certain developmental stages but, if it continues past that stage, there can be many problems. A 1987-88 correlational study found that 257 of 270 children who were defined as being “at-risk” were using “one-sided,” rather than cross-lateral processing (4). The Dennison Laterality Reprogramming (DLR) often corrects problems like these.

Crawling

Many of us have heard the idea that crawling is a very important developmental stage, because it helps to coordinate the right and left sides of the brain, so that they can work together in a balanced way. Actually, all movement helps develop the neural nets that are needed for brain growth and development (6). One of the Brain Gym* exercises is called the “cross-crawl,” and it involves moving the arms and legs across the midline of the body. When done repeatedly (and it is fun), this seems to help the brain to integrate and function better.

Research studies

Australia: Students in a remedial program were assigned to one of 4 groups: yoga, aerobics, Brain Gym*, and no exercise at all. The first three groups did movements daily for 20 minutes each, and all were retested at the end of four weeks. The yoga and aerobics groups showed small progress. The group with no exercise showed no observable change. The Brain Gym* group showed a 60% increase in reading comprehension, and 30-60% improvement in time on task; hyperactive behaviors reduced, and children’s attitudes were better.

How could reading improve so dramatically in such a short time? Probably because the information and skills needed for reading had already been learned. The problem was that the brain was not integrated enough to use the information it already had – until the Brain Gym* exercises were used.

Ventura, CA: Cecilia Freeman Koester did a yearlong project with 3rd, 4th and 5th graders at Saticoy Elementary School in Ventura, CA. One group did Brain Gym* for 15 minutes a day, while a control group did not. Partway through the year, Brain Gym Balances were done to remediate specific difficulties. By the end of the year, students in the Brain Gym* group improved their test scores twice as much as those in the control group. The students in the Brain Gym* group were also calmer, felt better about themselves, and commented on how much easier reading was for them.

In the Hanover region of Germany, 24 geriatric patients with Alzheimer’s Disease were trained in Brain Gym* as part of their group activities. Results showed that of the 24, 16 showed better memory skills after practicing Brain Gym, testing at an average of 23% higher than before on tasks like word lists and shopping.

The Future

These are only a few examples of the work being done in Educational Kinesiology. Many more studies and other information can be obtained at www.braingym.org and, for easy-to-read books on the subject, www.braingym.com. Anyone can take courses in Brain Gym*, starting with Brain Gym 101. You can learn Brain Gym* for your own use, or continue on to become a Brain Gym practitioner.

There is much for all of us to learn in this promising field, and I suspect that we have only begun to scratch the surface of what Educational Kinesiology can offer.

*Brain Gym is a registered trademark of the Educational Kinesiology Foundation.

Sources

1. http://www.braingym.com/

2. http://www.braingym.org/history

3. Dennison, Paul E. & Dennison, Gail E., Edu-K for Kids (1987) published by Edu-Kinesthetic, Inc., Ventura, CA.

4. Drabben-Thiemann, Hedwig, Kenklies, Von Bloomberg, Marahrens, Marahrens & Hager, “The Effect of Brain Gym* on the cognitive performance of Alzheimer’s patients,” Brain Gym Journal, XVI, No. 1, 2002.

5. Eyestone, Robert, “Correlates of Educational Kinesiology repatterning pre-checks with “at-risk” populations, Brain Gym* Magazine, Vol. II, No. 2, 1988 (copyright Robert Eyestone 1990) cited in A Chronology of Annotated Research Study Summaries in the Field of Educational Kinesiology, The Educational Kinesiology Foundation, Ventura, CA.

6. Freeman, Cecilia K. “The Effect of Brain Gym on Reading Abilities,” Brain Gym Journal, Volume XV, Nos. 1 & 2, July, 2001.

7. Hannaford, Carla, Smart Moves: Why Learning Is Not All In Your Head (1995) Alexander, NC: Grand Ocean Publishers.

8. http://www.movementbasedlearning.com/articles/articles/readingproject.html

9. Sifft, Josie M., “Experimental Research on Educational Kinesiology,” Research Report Compiled by the Educational Kinesiology Foundation, 1575 Spinnaker Drive, Ventura, CA 93001.

10. Whetton, Peter, “Longitudinal Perspective on Edu-K: Outcomes with Special Ed Students, Australia, E.K. Centre Newsletter. Glen Osmond, Australia, June, 1990; cited in A Chronology of Annotated Research Study Summaries in the Field of Educational Kinesiology, The Educational Kinesiology Foundation, Ventura, CA.