Sunday, June 1, 2014

Ready for Reading

It happens all the time. A parent calls my Brain Gym® practice, and the conversation goes something like this:

• a friend told me about Brain Gym
• I was doing some research online and bumped into your website
• I found a book that mentions Brain Gym

and I’d like to talk with you about services for my
• son
• daughter

• 7
• 8
• 9
• 10
• …
• 15

He/she has been struggling in school since kindergarten despite all our best efforts and special help, is behind his/her classmates, and hates reading. We finally had some testing done, and the diagnosis is..."
• dyslexia and dysgraphia
• inability for both eyes to track together

Most often I simply take a bit more information from the parent and set up an appointment. But the other day I found myself saying,

“Let me make some guesses about your son. He’s left-eyed, and skipped the crawling stage.”

There was a pause, and the mother on the phone laughed. “Both those things are true! How did you know?”

I laughed along with her and said, “An educated guess." 

I explained that the left eye, on its own, prefers to track right-to-left, opposite to the way we read. If both brain hemispheres aren’t fluidly sharing information, then the left eye won’t be able to team well with the right eye, which naturally tracks left-to-right, in line with the way we read.
Left eye on its own
Right eye on its own
I went on to share that the crawling stage is nature’s way of teaching the two hemispheres of our brain to work together. When there's fluid communication between the two sides of the brain, then the two eyes naturally team, and track together in the correct direction. 
Both eyes working together
because both brain hemispheres
are working together
It's as if the right eye can now talk to the left eye and say, "Hi, friend - I know the way to go - follow me!" The reader no longer has to expend so much effort to make his way across the lines of print.

When this happens, the words themselves often start making so much more sense because the reader is no longer limping along with just one hemisphere or the other - he can finally use both together. The left brain does sound-symbol association (phonics) but has no idea of what the story is; the right brain holds the big picture of what the story is about, but can't "sound things out." Children who haven't crawled for a sufficient amount of time are at risk for not having the patterning in their body for being able to easily use both hemispheres at the same time.

At this point in this Blog entry I could explain that 
• one of the key outcomes of the Brain Gym program is that the two brain hemispheres begin communicating more efficiently
• the Cross Crawl movement from Brain Gym helps to develop those cross-lateral patterns over time
• (in my humble opinion) the Brain Gym process called Dennison Laterality Repatterning, a fifteen-minute process, is the equivalent of months of infant crawling
• using Brain Gym often transforms the reading process. 

But actually, I’ve already done that, in three different places...

1) An article about eye-teaming that I wrote years ago for the Brain Gym® Journal, which you can read by clicking here.

2) An article I wrote years ago for my own newsletter, that tells the story of Henry, who had never crawled, and who had severe “dyslexia and dysgraphia”… until a single Brain Gym balance – after which he read easily. That night, he read his mother One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish (a Dr. Seuss story) at bedtime. No struggle or tears – for the first time ever. Two weeks later, his handwriting had matured from pre-K level to that of a second-grader (which he was).* His occupational therapist was astonished. You can find that article here.

3) And, if you’d like to dig deeper into this topic, I have dedicated an entire chapter of my book, Educate Your Brain, to the subject of reading. In this chapter I explore 
• eye teaming and eye dominance
• how to know whether a person is right- or left-eyed
• how stress affects reading
• why listening and inner speech are such important aspects of reading
• and why, once the reader can use both eyes (and therefore both brain hemispheres) simultaneously, reading comprehension naturally emerges. 

Most importantly, I share in this chapter how you can boost all these aspects of reading – through physical movement. 

(Oh… and why are they taking recess and P.E. out of the school day? To make more time for reading instruction? But that’s for another blog posting…)

Warm regards,

* Note: Not every child's reading changes this significantly with just one Brain Gym balance. But this (very true) story serves to explain the challenges inherent in a situation like Henry's, and what the possibilities are. And this kind of change actually does happen more frequently than you might imagine. 
Click here for a link to the website for my book, Educate Your Brain

Copyright© 2014 by Kathy Brown. All rights reserved. 
Photographs copyright© Laird Brown Photography. All rights reserved. 

Brain Gym® is a registered trademark of Brain Gym® International, Ventura, California •

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