Educational Kinesiology & Brain Gym: Movement for Learning

by Mary Rentschler, MEd., and Cecilia K. Freeman, MEd.

To learn effectively, typical children and those with special needs must be able to sit still, listen, focus on letters and figures, and track from left to right with their eyes. When these physical skills are not automatic, attending to the demands of higher level cognitive processing is difficult.

Addressing this issue of readying the body to learn is a movement system called Educational Kinesiology (Edu-K). Edu-K is the fruit of 20 years of experimentation and research by Californian Paul Dennison, PhD. Edu-K comprises techniques from the fields of motor development, Applied Kinesiology, developmental optometry, Neuro-Linguistic Programming, acupuncture, yoga, martial arts, language development, psychology, and brain research.

Dennison developed a set of 26 specific movements, called Brain Gym, to promote integrated visual, auditory and kinesthetic functioning. Brain Gym stimulates the nervous system equally in all brain parts, minimizes one-sided, negative brain reactions, builds new pathways to both hemispheres, and eliminates stress. Performance comes naturally when one‘s body is relaxed and one‘s posture supports access to all parts of the brain.

Cecilia Freeman, M.Ed., Brain Gym Consultant and Instructor, uses Edu-K and Brain Gym to benefit those challenged with autism, cerebral palsy, ADD, ADHD, PDD, Angelman‘s Syndrome, speech impairment, blindness and deafness. Brain Gym exercises are easily adaptable for children with limited movement capability. (See her book, I Am the Child: Using Brain Gym with Children WhoI Am the Child, for inspirational success stories.)

In the Brain Gym model, three dimensions of intelligence correspond to the integrated functioning of the three parts of the brain:

What is the ideal state for learning, playing, and interacting? One of whole brain integration in which we access all three dimensions.

Do the "Rocker" to activate the brain for focus, centering, and laterality. The child sits on the floor, knees up, leaning back on his arms. Lifting his feet, he rocks back to front, right to left, and in circles. An adult can assist with arms around the child‘s knees and back. (To learn about more exercises, see references at end.)

Some movements have been sequenced into a simple series called PACE (Positive, Active, Clear, Energetic), a quick tune-up designed to be used often. At school, PACE is effective at the start of the day, after recess, and after lunch. At home, good opportunities are before school, before homework, and at bedtime. To get into an integrated state of learning readiness:

Mary Rentschler and Cecilia Freeman are Certified Brain Gym Consultants. For more information, visit the Educational Kinesiology Foundation‘s website. For Brain Gym classes or private consultations in the Washington, DC, area, contact Mary Rentschler, M.Ed. (202-244-8280; email address), or, in California, Cecilia Freeman, M.Ed., (805-641-1851;

[Initially published in New Developments: Volume 5, Number 3 - Summer, 1999-2000]

All material in this web site is given for information purposes only and is not to be substituted for advice from your health care provider.

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