Integrating Thinking
Integrating Thinking

Posts Tagged ‘education’

A Learning Story: How the Body Tells it.

Posted by Chris Payard

The Learning Story as a Body Story.The Body Tells a Learning Story:  An Introduction.

When we think of academic learning we usually think about the brain and how it works, and how we can manage our brain functions to learn betterBut, it’s often the body that tells us about how the brain is operating and supporting learning for our students.

We need to learn to read that body language. It tells us HOW our students learn.  

Here’s some more information about WHY this perspective is so important for educators: 


Learn more about the upcoming training programme I mention in this video (including a free Masterclass) click on this button:

"How the Body Tells the Learning Story." Course info. 2021

To stay informed about other things connected to the  “Body to Brain Learning”  theme, sign up for our email updates.  Click on this button: 

Keep me in the info loop.


About me: Christine PayardAbout me:  I’m Christine Payard (PhD).  I’m an educator, with a passion for learning:  how we learn and how to help others learn.  I look at learning from a neurodevelopmental perspective because I’ve learned that if the body doesn’t support learning, it can interfere with learning.  That process starts early in our development and it’s how the body helps train the brain and supports ongoing function, including academic learning.



New school-based research.

Posted by Chris Payard

New Research:

​This morning I received an email from Sally Goddard Blythe (Director of INPP International) regarding a new article she has co-authored with a research team in the UK. 

Here’s the link to the article.  [You may have to pay to download it. (Sorry, that’s the nature of the Journal and access to their stories.)  
There are quite a few great snippets of valuable information in the article, but key points I gleaned include the astounding figure that 60% of the children screened for ATNR, STNR and TLR had those 3 reflexes retained at a score of 2, 3 or 4 (retained at 50% or more).
“Also notable is the number of children who scored 2 or more on each reflex test (i.e. those who had all three reflexes retained at 50% or more; a score of 2, 3 or 4). This equated to 73 of the 120 children and represented 60.8% of the sample.” (p.9.)
Sally also sent through a  Press Release: March 10th, 2021 


One of the exciting things about this work is that the INPP School-based Screening test is providing a great data reference point for inclusion in these (and other) research projects. I won’t bore you with academic discussion, but that’s pretty cool and adds credibility to our work. 
In an age when much of our teacher’s work has to be data-driven and data recorded for accountability etc, it’s good to know we have an instrument that is gaining a reputation for measuring the developmental reflex (neuromotor maturity) status of children.  (Neuromotor and Sensory Immaturity are factors that have been shown to relate to academic learning success and readiness for learning.)
If you want to know more about this Screening Test as a training opportunity — click on this link:

Screening Test Training Opportunities

It will take you to an information page about the “Screening” courses we offer.

BUT, I also suggest you sign up for our training updates and email list here:  Learn More…

How the Body Tells the Learning Story:

In about 2 weeks I will be conducting a free Masterclass that will provide teachers, and other professionals who support children’s learning, with an introduction to why this neurodevelopmental perspective is important in their work.   
The course is due to start on the 21st of April.  More details (including how to sign up and an outline of the course) will be posted soon.
Please, let others know if you think they may be interested. 
Dr Christine Payard
B Ed (Hons);  MEd Studies (Language & Literacy); PhD
Neurodevelopmental Educator; INPP Australia Principal
Founder of the “Body to Brain Learning Professional Development Series.”

Christine Payard (PhD) is the Director of Integrating Thinking ® and the founder of the Body to Brain Learning ® Professional Development Series.  An educator, researcher, author and presenter, Christine has studied extensively in the area of literacy, learning, teaching and ways the body supports the learning process.  She is an Educator with a neuro-developmental focus.  She can be contacted by email: admin@integratingthinking.com.au


 #body_to_brain_learning #integratingthinking #reading #learning #neuromotorimmaturity #bodystories #primitivereflexes #vision #visualprocessing #vision #inpp #inppaustralia #teaching #questions #checklist #learningsupport #helpingthebodysupportlearning



3 Questions Teachers Ask About “Body to Brain Learning”.

Posted by Chris Payard

There are at least 3 questions teachers ask me about my work as a neurodevelopmental educator and consultant helping children with learning difficulties.  I call it “body to brain learning”.

Here are the questions and some short (and longer) answers:   

1.The first question teachers ask is:  “What is ‘Body to Brain Learning?'”


Short answer:  

Body to Brain Learning®  is a neurodevelopmental approach to education and understanding HOW we learn.  Basically, It’s a developmental and functional view of learning.  Our body needs to be developmentally mature and function well at the appropriate life stage for us to learn well. 

Body to Brain Learning® is also a professional learning series to help me share this crucial information with educators and others who work with children with learning challenges. This knowledge was missing from my professional knowledge bank as a teacher.  I know it’s missing from the professional knowledge banks of many others who work with children that experience learning and functional challenges, not just teachers.

In our Body to Brain Learning® PD Series, we teach you about what to look for and how to use this perspective (supported by brain science) in your learning based practice. 

 Longer answers:

There are two parts to the longer answer:

Part #1:  The Learning Process 

Body to Brain Learning® is all about the learning process. HOW we learn.

Teachers ask what body to brain isIt’s about how we learn as humans from a developmental, body perspective.  It acknowledges that we learn with and through our body. 

It is about identifying how our body impacts our learning.  

It examines how body systems directly impact our learning success from a neurodevelopmental perspective and is a way of working in education, and, in learning support agencies/professions.

Our brain processes information it receives through the body and that enables us to learn and use that information in different academic, life and social contexts. That’s one way that our body helps our brain to learn.

If the body isn’t supporting our brain to receive and effectively process information from the world around us, then things can go awry in the learning process and learning can be a struggle.

We see evidence of immature body systems in the way children approach learning tasks such as reading, writing, mathematics, physical education and more.  We can see in their posture, movement and behavioural responses that their body is not making academic learning easy; in fact, it may be complicating it. We are talking about immature neuromotor and sensory systems.

This neurodevelopmental lens as a teacher helps us modify our pedagogic practice to enhance student learning and potential. By understanding neurodevelopmental aspects of the learning process and what to look for in students neurophysiological behaviours, we gain a better understanding of HOW our students learn. (That’s AITSL standard #1)

Part #2: The Professional Learning Series 

Body to Brain Learning, professional learning seriesBody to Brain Learning® is also the name of a professional learning series for educators, health care professionals and families, who want to know more about how the body impacts learning potential and how the body helps support learning.

Body to Brain Learning® was founded by Dr Christine Payard (PhD) with the intention of making this neurodevelopmental approach to learning and teaching easy to understand and implement in practice. 

It helps professionals (not just teachers) learn and apply concepts of neurodevelopment in their practice to help children and adults who may have learning challenges that are neurodevelopmentally based.

The first series for educators (“How the Body Tells the Learning Story”) provides introductory information and insight into how the body tells us about the learning stories of our students.   It helps educators observe and begin to interpret the learning story the body is telling us about each of our students in our classrooms.  Other Professional Development programmes can be found on the training page of our website:  integratingthinking.com.au/training 

2. The second question:  “Isn’t ANY movement good enough to help our students learn?”

This is usually the context for that question: 

“I notice there is a growing focus on the importance of movement for learning. Is this just about getting students to move more, eat well and be healthy? Our students are active. We know movement is important for health, well-being and learning.  We know about body activity and core strength.  Our students run around the oval every morning to wake up their bodies each day.  We see that as part of their learning activities.  Isn’t that all I need to know? Isn’t that enough?”

Short answer:  

No, that’s not all you need to know and, no, it is not enough.

While running around and general movement is incredibly important, so is an educator’s understanding of the developmental sequence of our neuro-motor and sensory systems and how they underpin successful academic learning.  That’s the Body to Brain Learning® function that interests us. Here’s why:

Teachers ask about what movement matters.

Developmental movement sequences matter.

Longer answer: 

Body to Brain Learning® is a way of thinking about learning and how we learn.  It’s about how the body helps the brain to learn using a neurodevelopmental perspective. 

A neurodevelopmental lens in our teaching practice improves our teaching because of the insight it provides into HOW students learn.

Body to Brain Learning® is a neurodevelopmental approach that acknowledges we aren’t born to run, walk and talk immediately, and, our brain isn’t ready to learn academically until some of the body stuff is well developed. 

Our body and brain need to progress through milestones and neurodevelopmental pathways to develop our senses fully and integrate them appropriately with our neuromotor systems. Each stage and sub-stage of development needs to fulfil a neural wiring, processing and functioning purpose.

Our body systems need to work together to support the “top-level” brain learning activities that our schooling systems and academic learning require.

Body to Brain Learning ® considers the developmental sequence of the early years and its impact on later learning at any age. It’s not just about when a child starts school. This isn’t just early childhood information.  Here’s why:

We know the first three years of life are crucial for laying the foundations for learning success.  Sometimes, due to any number of reasons, the body’s neuromotor and sensory systems don’t mature enough in that time to support the academic learning requirements our children face when they go to school.  This immaturity can limit a child’s ability to learn and function in different contexts across their lifetime. Practitioners like me work with children, adolescents, young adults and older adults with this body system immaturity.

Body to Brain Learning ® uses concepts and theories of neurobiology, neuroplasticity, neuropsychology, child development, and education to look at how the body supports learning.  It helps teachers (and other professionals working with children who have learning challenges) look at learning from a developmental and functional perspective.  It asks: “How does the child’s body support their learning?  Can we help improve their learning experience, particularly children with learning challenges? How can we mature these systems so that we can make the learning journey easier and more successful for our students who need help in this area? How can we help their function?”

Our focus in Body to Brain Learning ® is on developmental movement and the role it plays in supporting the learning process.  This movement is different from the movement that supports health and fitness.

Well developed, mature neuromotor and sensory systems provide the foundations of success for a child’s learning journey. They mature through developmental movement sequences. We explore this concept of movement, its neuromotor and sensory connections, and assess and understand its impact on learning.

If a child has immature neuromotor and sensory systems, they are likely to struggle to control aspects of their body.  This can impact their learning experience and success (eg. the child who can’t sit still, who is constantly distracted or distracts others, who can’t read and write well despite being motivated to learn, and so on). 

Knowing what to look for in the body language of the students we teach (including how they move, sit and behave in class) gives us insight into how the student’s body supports their learning. A Body to Brain Learning ® approach is built on the premise that the body tells us a story about how students learn.

If the body doesn’t support learning, it can interfere with learning. 

As teachers, we need to be able to identify if a student’s body and body processes are supporting their learning journey, or, interfering with it. This view of movement is different from getting the children to move more for health and wellbeing.

By identifying and interpreting the body story, we gain a better understanding of HOW our students are learning.  And, if necessary, we can revisit developmental movement patterns to help mature our neuro-motor and sensory systems so that our students’ bodies function more effectively to support their learning.

It’s about knowing how movement contributes to a student’s learning journey and supports their academic learning function. That’s the “movement” we are talking about.

3. The third question teachers ask:  “How do I know if a student has this type of learning challenges?”

Short answer: 

I can send you the “Body to Brain Learning® Checklist for Educators”. Once you download it, you can observe if the student(s) you have in mind tick the boxes that may indicate there could be a body-based, neuro-developmental issue that is impacting their learning. 

Here’s the link to sign up and receive that resource (and more information about what to do with it):  

Send me the "Body to Brain Learning Educator's Checklist."

Longer answer: 

When I ask the children with whom I work what they think/feel is happening with their body at school,  I often get answers like they are “I’m fighting my body.”  (Yes, some use those exact words). 

So, what does this struggle look like? 

Well, it can be different for each child,  but, there are often similarities in behaviours, postures and approaches to classroom-based activities. 

Once you see the body cues and understand what those body cues are telling you about how their bodies are impacting their learning, you can’t “unsee” them. 

The easiest way I suggest to start identifying these body cues is to use the “Body to Brain Learning® Checklist for Educators”.  Here’s a snippet from the checklist:

Body to Brain Learning Educator's Checklist sample

The “Body to Brain Learning® Checklist for Educators” includes other observations such as reading & writing behaviours, listening, vision, spatial awareness, social interaction, speech, vocabulary, a student’s demeanour and their attitude in class.  

The checklist is a resource to help you start to look at your students with a “body to brain learning” perspective/lens so you can start to see how students are learning with their body. 

Included in the checklist is an introductory explanation of what to do with the data you are gathering by using this observational tool. We give you guidelines to help you use this different lens in understanding HOW your students learn. 

Remember, underpinning this work is the concept that if the body doesn’t support learning it can interfere with it, BUT, it can also tell us what is going on in a child’s learning journey. It can tell us that child’s learning story.  The story of how they are using their body to support their academic learning.

So, what are the body stories that tell me about how my students learn? How do I read those stories?

Well, that’s another huge question…I’ll follow up with that in another conversation. 

Teachers ask what are the body cues of NMI?

If you want to access the checklist and more information, here’s that link again: 

Send me the "Body to Brain Learning Educator's Checklist."

When you sign up for our updates, I’ll keep you informed about blog posts, courses, articles and other things that focus on this area of learning, teaching and functional support.

Christine Payard (PhD) is the Director of Integrating Thinking ® and the founder of the Body to Brain Learning ® Professional Development Series.  An educator, researcher, author and presenter, Christine has studied extensively in the area of literacy, learning, teaching and ways the body supports the learning process.  She is an Educator with a neuro-developmental focus.  She can be contacted by email: admin@integratingthinking.com.au


 #body_to_brain_learning #integratingthinking #reading #learning #neuromotorimmaturity #bodystories #primitivereflexes #vision #visualprocessing #vision #inpp #inppaustralia #teaching #questions #checklist #learningsupport #helpingthebodysupportlearning


Learning to Read: It’s Complicated!

Posted by Chris Payard

I was the child who could read a word on one page but could NOT read it on the next page. I know it frustrated my mother incredibly. ? (In fact, my father often jokes that I was lucky to survive the treacherous task of learning to read because it was so frustrating, infuriating in fact, for those who were helping me learn!)

Do you know a child like that?  Yes?  Well then, please be patient. Here’s why:

Reading is a highly complex task; cognitively AND physiologically.

Reading Requires Mature Body Systems:

Successful reading requires mature body systems that support reading.  It requires more than just concentration and paying attention to the story we are reading, in fact, those processes come later when we can actually read.  Let me explain a little bit about what I mean.  

To read well we need well-developed ocular-motor skills, accurate and consistent visual perception, and the ability to match visual symbols and letter combinations with sounds. We also need to make meaning out of those squiggles and symbols and their combinations on the page (letters, words, sentences). That involves other processes and brain functions including some cognitive (thinking) activities.  Once we have mastered those activities, then we can start to become fluent in identifying and interpreting script on a page to make meaning in our head (comprehension) and learn from the text on the page.

Sounds like…

Sometimes reading can be confusing because the same letters and letter combinations sound different when they are in another word eg. “ou” sometimes sounds like “ooo” (in ‘you’) and sometimes it sounds like “ow” (in ‘sound’). We need to learn to identify those differences and when and where they happen in language.  [Phonetics of English isn’t the easiest to learn because of these sorts of quirks and characteristics of how we represent sounds in written form. (Phonetics is basically the study of speech sounds, their production and combinations, and how we represent those with written symbols.)  And, that’s why “sounding out words” can sometimes be frustrating and tricky for a new reader.]

Looks like…

If our eyes aren’t consistently working well together a “b” on one page may look like a “d” on another. That changes things for a new reader!

Sometimes our eyes aren’t actually pointing at the same word or letter and that sends different messages to the brain which is also confusing. Sometimes it seems like the words may be moving or “swimming” on the page. There are many visual distortions that can happen. A child isn’t usually aware that others who can read don’t see the page the way they do!  Sometimes different fonts can confuse children’s ability to identify letters and their corresponding sounds.  Have you ever had trouble reading cursive (running writing), but no problems reading print?  Letters can look different in different fonts, yet they are the same letter.  How does a child learn that “t” and “t” are the same, or that “g” and “g” are the same?  They don’t look the same!

It’s not about intelligence.

When a child has difficulties reading (like I did), it is not a reflection of their intelligence. It is more likely a reflection of something going wrong in the reading process. 

We aren’t born with a fully mature body system that is capable of undertaking the complex task of reading. We learn to read and train our body to discern and understand the characteristics of our language in written form.  It’s complex.

Initially, our body needs to develop the foundational skills and processes to support us in our reading, writing and learning tasks. That takes time. It requires developmental movement sequences and opportunities that most of us experience in our first 3 – 5 years of life. It requires opportunity and it may require support if it isn’t mature by the time we are at school.

Supporting the reading body:

If a child/student struggles with reading, it’s worth asking a professional who understands the physiology of learning, developmental patterns, and the complexity of reading for some advice. The child/student may need some support because, if their body isn’t fully supporting the reading and learning process, it may actually be interfering with the reading and learning process. In that case, the body can be helped to support the learning and reading processes. 

Success in our school system requires success in reading and writing.  We need to understand how the body helps support those tasks, because learning doesn’t just happen in the brain.  It happens in and through our body.

If you want to learn more about this perspective on learning and how the body helps support and tell the story of our learning bodies, you can sign up for updates and information through our email list: integratingthinking.com.au/learnmore.

Christine Payard (PhD) is the Director of Integrating Thinking ® and the founder of the Body to Brain Learning ® Series.  An educator, researcher, author and presenter, Christine has studied extensively in the area of literacy, learning, teaching and ways the body supports the learning process.  She is an Educator with a neuro-developmental focus.  She can be contacted by email: admin@integratingthinking.com.au


 #body_to_brain_learning #integratingthinking #reading #learning #neuromotorimmaturity #bodystories #primitivereflexes #vision #visualprocessing #vision #inpp #inppaustralia

NAPLAN Does NOT Equal Learning.

Posted by Chris Payard

News headline this week:  

“NAPLAN results: Annual numeracy and literacy report shows ‘limited’ significant improvement in students’ skills”  (http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-08-05/naplan-results-show-limited-improvement-in-students-skills/6673118)

This is not surprising to many of us involved in Education. Testing (such as NAPLAN) provides data enabling us to inform change in practice that should lead to improving learning opportunities, if we use it properly.  Improvement in student learning happens when we use that data to identify and address underlying issues and difficulties.  school-testing1

Learning is not just a thinking task, it is also a physiological and neurological activity.  This means we need to consider learning from a physiological and neurological developmental perspective and ask “Is the student’s body supporting their learning, or could it be making it more challenging?”  Providing teachers with the skills to identify and work with these attributes of the learning process is an element of education that needs to be examined and supported in our schools.

Developmental programs that address physiological and neurological readiness for learning can help students access the curriculum.  Parents and teachers working together on these issues can contribute to improved student outcomes in accessing the curriculum and enhancing learning potential.  The obvious place to address these fundamental learning platforms is in the early years of school.  But, if the body seems to be “getting in the way” of the learning at any year level, there is opportunity to address those difficulties.  The INPP program is one program that can help address fundamental and foundational elements in student’s readiness for learning.  

INPP practitioners working in conjunction with educators can provide simple, non-invasive, developmentally focussed programs that support learning. It takes time, however, and requires a commitment to longer term solutions, not quick fixes. The focus needs to be on the growing and developing child with their continued learning process throughout childhood and adolescence, not just the testing and reporting of their skills at key points in time. 

Yes, Mr Pyne, it is “about the basics of school education – curriculum, teacher quality, parental engagement and school autonomy,” but there’s a clause missing.  We need to add: ‘with the focus on children and their learning.’ Perhaps it’s implicit and goes without saying. Let’s make it explicit not only in our speech, but in our actions!  Use the NAPLAN data effectively to create change and form appropriate learning environments that support the whole learner. Testing doesn’t improve learning.  Learning improves learning.  

Video:  Peter Goss (the Grattan Institute) on the ABC on Wednesday 5th August discussing the NAPLAN results. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-08-05/naplan-results-fail-to-show-any-real-overall-improvement/6673632


Integrating Thinking