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    Is your child struggling at school?

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    Why is your bright child not coping at school?

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What is ILT?

If you are reading this, the chances are that you have a child who is struggling at school. Maybe he or she is finding it difficult to master skills such as reading, writing, maths or spelling. Maybe he or she can do all these things but comes home with reports about unfinished work, or work left at home.

The teacher complains about her being disorganised, untidy or even aggressive towards other children. Or maybe she is described as being unfocused and a daydreamer who never seems to listen. And maybe you agree with the teacher because you see the same behaviour at home.

Labels such as ADHD, Dyslexia, Auditory Processing Problems, Sensory Processing Disorder are mentioned. What’s going on?


Testimonials

  • Children during the Covid-19 lockdown

     

    This post is from very sound advice given from the Principal of a school in the UK.  I thought it well worth sharing some of her thoughts.

    Please consider that during this lockdown, our children are just as scared as we are right now.  They not only hear everything going on around them, but they feel our constant tension and anxiety. They have never experienced anything like this before. Although the idea of being off school for weeks sounds exciting, they aren’t prepared for the reality of being virtually trapped at home and not seeing their friends.

    Over the coming weeks, you may see an increase in behaviour issues – whether it’s anxiety, or anger, or protests that they can’t do normal things. This will happen. You will potentially see more meltdowns, tantrums and opposition behaviour. This is normal and expected under these circumstances.

    What children need right now is to feel comforted and loved. To feel like it is all going to be okay. That might mean that you need to focus on giving them lots of love and attention. Don’t be too rigid about your home-schooling plan that sees them working diligently for part of the day.  It is very hard for you – especially if you have the added pressure of trying to work at home with the children there. Please try to get them outside for periods during the day – for playing with you or their siblings (remember no friends!), or going for walks with you. Bake biscuits and paint pictures. Play board games and watch movies. Do a science experiment together or find virtual field trips to zoos or museums on line. Create a fitness circuit in your garden. Start a book and read together as a family. Snuggle under warm blankets and do nothing.

    Don’t worry about them regressing in school. Every single child is in the same boat and they will all be okay.  At the end of all of this, their mental health will be far more important than their academic skills. How they felt during this time will stay with them long after the memory of what they did during these weeks is gone. So keep that in mind, every single day.

     

  • How does movement build a child’s brain?

    (Extracted from the website https://extension.psu.edu/movement-builds-a-childs-brain, by Jacqueline Amor-Zitzelberger.

    Integrated Learning Therapy (ILT) focuses on the role of movement in helping brain development and learning.  Just how does movement build brain structure?

    At birth, a baby’s brain contains 100 billion brain cells, roughly as many nerve cells as there are stars in the Milky Way, and almost all the brain will ever have. In the brain, nerve cells called neurons are present at birth and eventually form trillions of connections over the first years of life depending on the child’s life experiences. These neural connections start to send messages to each other to meet the requirements of the body and brain. Compare this to posting messages to friends on Facebook or Instagram. If you send a message to 500 friends, and each of those friends, in turn, send or forward that message to another 500 friends, and so on, the messages or signals expand exponentially.

    This messaging is important for the brain-body connection. The ability of the brain to develop and maintain neural connections is based on reflexive movements (before and following birth) and then new movement and play experiences of toddlers and young children. Brain cell connections are lost or pruned away as a result of limited activity or stimulation. “Move it or lose it” is true for both children and adults.

    Researchers say that there are “windows of opportunity,” or sensitive periods, in children’s lives when specific types of learning take place. For instance, scientists have determined that the neurons for vision begin sending messages back and forth rapidly at two to four months of age, peaking in intensity at eight months. Babies begin to take much more notice of the world during this period. If a child misses this opportunity, that does not mean that the child will be impaired, but her brain may not develop circuitry to its full potential, or optimal development, in that area. The nervous system does not even mature until somewhere between the ages of 15 to 25, so during this time, parents and teachers can continue to provide a variety of active play opportunities through those years to promote further brain growth.

    Brain development does not stop after early childhood, but the window narrows, making it harder for adults to learn skills they missed during childhood.  Ultimately, our adult capabilities are determined by childhood activities.

    Children need to move to activate the brain. And the brain responds in full force allowing them to move in a variety of ways including crossing the mid-lines. Songs like “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes” and “Hokey Pokey” are examples of crossing the midlines of the body. Why are these action songs and the mid-line important for brain development? The motions to the songs encourage children to cross all three body mid-lines, reaching the top to bottom, left to right, and front to back. These physical movements demand coordination from both the left and right sides of the brain. This strengthens the tissues called the corpus callosum that divides the two sides of the brain that is important for communication from one side of the brain to the other. These movements help to develop and strengthen neural pathways laying the foundation for further development in language, literacy, and math skills.

    Crossing mid-lines can help stimulate brain activity in adults too. Try this activity. Extend one arm straight in front of you. It doesn’t matter which one. Point your index finger, and draw a large, imaginary figure 8 lying on its side, crossing left to right in front of your body. Run your finger along this imaginary figure several times. Now switch to the opposite arm. It may be harder since it is probably your non-dominate arm. Trace the same large figure 8 several times. This activity stimulates both sides of your brain and refreshes your thinking process. It might help you get through those long afternoon workdays.

    There is one easy way that you can boost your child’s brainpower through movement activities. Turn on your children’s (or your) favourite music and have a dance party. You’ll have so much fun that no one will realize that you’re building your child’s brain!

     

  • Learning readiness starts in the body not the brain

     

    Most people still believe that learning happens in the brain and the body doesn’t play a role.  See how teachers insist that children sit still without any fidgeting with any part of the body when in the classroom.

    In the past, children could make up for this body neglect by using their bodies in all kinds of activities after school hours.  They used to climb, run, tumble, dig, fall into ditches and fall out of trees.  The change isn’t all due to TV and screen time but also because today’s families live in small homes without access to open play areas.   Long hours are spent in commuting to and from school. The streets have become dangerous places.  It’s been estimated that children are spending 25% less time on free play than they did in their grandparents’ time.

    The reality is that the brain needs the body’s movement in order to create the neural pathways that make ease of learning possible.  You can’t make a child learning ready with workbooks, i-pad games or computer programmes.  It develops as children’s brains mature along with experiences occurring as a result of bodily sensation and movement.

    Important movements are the early reflexes, followed by large body movements such as climbing, jumping, swimming, playing hopscotch, catching and throwing balls, riding bicycles, running, skipping, sweeping and digging.  Smaller body movements develop fine motor skills, such as cutting vegetables, drawing, building with blocks, moving to music and learning rhythm through clapping, singing and so on.   Movements that need crossing the midline help build the pathways connecting the two brain hemispheres and are crucial for learning to read, write and understand maths.

    Children love to move; they need to move.  If their bodies are given the chance needed to move in play, they will develop to a stage of learning readiness.  Perhaps not all of them will reach this stage at exactly the same time but we do have the genetic potential to be wired to learn.

    So limit sedentary time.  Push your children out of doors.  Make sure you spend quality time in play parks or open spaces over the weekends – with due care for Covid-19 safety, of course.  Buy body healthy toys like trampolines, skipping ropes and balance boards rather than the latest hi-tech toy.   Go back to basics if you really want your child to reach his or her potential at school.

     

  • Fun games to develop language, movement and creativity

    Many teachers and parents look for ways of including valuable developmental skills into games with young children.  Mary Mountstephen shared this blog giving some information about Marlene Rattigan’s useful book. Entitled Kidz-fiz-biz:Scarf Magic, the book contains a DVD and 2 children’s scarves. You can access it at www.kidsfizbiz.com.

    In this blog we’d like to introduce you to some fun activities that you can do with your child at home or with small groups of friends. Scarves have enormous educational potential to stimulate language development, mathematical concepts and vocabulary and physical skills such as coordination, body control and body awareness. Some children need a little extra support to develop these skills, and Scarf Magic is an ideal way to do this in an enjoyable and active way,

    You need enough scarves for children to be able to make a choice, and allow them free play initially, joining in yourself. There are many sources of scarves and friends may be happy to hand over unwanted gifts.
The scarves should be:

    60 cm square for the children
60 cm or 1 metre square for the adults

    As with all activities, set the ground rules first of where the children are allowed to move, and set boundaries around what they can and can’t do to play safely and that the scarves must be treated with respect and folded away neatly at the end of each session.

    Spend some time initially exploring how to make the scarves move: Throw them in the air, slither them around on the floor, scrunch them up and watch them unfold. Throwing and Catching

    •  Scrunch the scarf into a little ball with both hands and throw the scarf high in the air, catching it with both hands. This can be done sitting, standing, and even moving around to music. You can also vary the speed and type of music to change the mood. 

    •  When this has been mastered, you can progress to throwing with one hand and catching with the other. It is a good idea to keep alternating the throwing and catching hands as this improves coordination and eye-hand control. 
Making Shapes and Maths Activities
You can use the scarves to explore mathematical language: 

    •  Fold the scarf into a rectangle and a triangle and count the number of corners and sides 

    •  Can you make the scarf into a smaller square by folding it up? 

    •  Are there any shapes they can find on the scarf?
Balancing and Crawling Activities
There are many different ways to be creative with moving that can also help develop language, coordination and perseverance. Some children may balance really well on one leg, but not the other, so encourage them to find different ways to experiment with this. 

    • Crawl around the room with the scarf tucked into the back of clothing, to make a tail. Play follow the leader. Stop on a signal and lift up one arm or one leg
    • Stand opposite a partner and hold one scarf between them, then try to balance in different ways

    These are just a few ways to use scarves that can take your children on a ‘voyage of discovery’. The possibilities are endless and children often come up with their own ideas that can be added to your bank of ideas.

     

  • Some good reasons for children to keep a diary – especially during lockdown

     

    This article is based on content in the book ‘Playing Smart’, by S.K. Perry.

    The fact that we are living through what will become a major historical event isn’t the only reason why diaries will provide fascinating future insight to life during this period. There are other benefits for children too.  Although there are various types of diaries (e.g. the ‘personal feelings diary’, the ‘what activities did I do today diary’, the ‘dream diary’), the process of committing to paper a permanent history of daily life provides these general benefits to almost any child:

    • Catharsis, in having a safe place to express feelings
    • Insight into growing up, and help in dealing with change
    • Improved communications and trust between parent and child and increased self-esteem – as long as parents never belittle anything their child writes, or dictates (in the case of young, pre-school children). Parents should never invade their child’s privacy without invitation
    • Better powers of observation and sharpened senses as the diarist turns not only inward to feelings, but outward to record actual happenings – smells, colours, changing seasons
    • Capture of early memories before they fade
    • The development of a writing style (a diary is a good place to experiment freely, without having to pay attention to grammar or spelling)
    • Improved language skills
    • A more active imagination, perhaps inspiring further nonfiction or fiction writing and other creative projects
    • Pleasure in the act itself.

     

    Writing a diary can be an art form in its own right, providing pleasure in the writing and greater joy in simply living.

    Reading the diaries of other people, especially of other children, may be the best inspiration for your child to begin her own journal journey.  Try an internet search with him or her to find examples.

     

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