Teachers were trained in a couple dozen movements that are intended to integrate both sides of the body and both sides of the brain. Laurie Sarver says a short break during the school day to do some deep breathing and "cross-crawls"--alternately touching one hand or elbow to the opposite knee--gets restless kindergartners focused again fast.
She even uses Brain Gym during math instruction. Counting by fives is more fun and productive when students pair up and play patty-cake, calling out numbers and reaching across diagonally to their partner's hand. And she thinks the left-to-right movements they practice also reinforce how children learn to read and write--from left to right.
The Brain Gym program, launched in the late 1980s in California, has proponents of its learning-through-movement philosophy worldwide. Bates physical education teacher Patrick Glynn introduced Brain Gym in his classes four years ago after learning about it at a conference.
Two years ago, he and fellow teachers got a grant from the educational foundation to train the entire staff and integrate the program into the curriculum. He often starts gym class with Brain Gym stations: kids step left-right-left over a jump rope or into hula hoops on the floor and draw large figure eights on paper with markers--techniques that use the whole brain.
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