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Posts Tagged ‘neuro developmental education’

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

 

What is Neuro-Developmental Education?

Posted by Chris Payard

By Chris Payard

Neuro- Developmental Education assumes that learning is more than just “thinking about” and “concentrating on” what you are learning. 

Neuro-Developmental Education investigates and addresses underlying developmental, neuro-motor and neuro-physiological aspects needed to support learning. 

book on head

Learning is, initially a physiological function – a neuro-physiological function that occurs in and through our body and doesn’t just occur in our brain.  At a physiological level, it involves neurological change triggered by various stimuli and chemical transmitters that form neurological pathways which allow our brains and bodies to function in complex ways (neurotransmitters and other complicated processes, chemicals and steps are involved). Learning is more than just deliberately “using your brain” and “focussing on” what you are hearing, seeing or feeling.  It is also much more than a concentrated effort to rote learn and imprint an action or information in our brains so that we can tap into it at a later stage like an automatic information filing and retrieval system. 

We need to have well-functioning neurological processes to build our ability to learn and function well in our world AND, we need to have well-functioning physiological process to support learning. For example, vision, hearing and interpreting information obtained through our senses enable us to make sense of our world.  Those processes need to be working well. 

Learning is a highly complex physiological activity and ignoring the basis of that physiology when considering learning is like building a house without considering the structural support and foundations necessary to make that house strong and capable of withstanding environmental and physical conditions in which it is situated.

The development of neurological and physiological processes that enhance and support learning begins well before we are born and continues through early childhood and into adolescence and adulthood. 

As soon as sweet Mary Jane is born she begins to learn about her world and her place in the world through physical experience impacting on her genetic predisposition which in turn helps her learn to function.  This physical learning process enabling Mary Jane to function independently in the world initially begins through primitive reflex movements.  Primitive reflexes help her  respond to her environment and develop the physiological skills and posture that helps her to stand in a gravitational environment and move as an upright being, sit on a chair at a desk, move in a co-ordinated manner and learn from others around her, as well as books and other sources of information.

Primitive reflexes are there for a specific job and once they achieve their purpose, they should be integrated and then replaced by postural reflexes.  If the primitive reflexes are still present, then it is probable that the reflex hasn’t done its job.  While we may still be able to function and override some reflex responses, we generally require more energy to do so before our brains access their higher functioning capacity.  For some children and adults this can impair function and capacity.  The automatic pathways to higher function are more complex because the primitive, slower pathways still require physiological attention and energy to deal with them. 

Imagine, if you will, learning to drive. 

At first you must learn each of the skills and gradually put them together. 

You don’t go and practice driving on the fastest interstate Freeway before having the skills of starting and controlling the vehicle. Source: Google images

The multi-tasking capacity of an experienced driver is far more developed and complex than that of the novice driver.Eventually the skills required in foot, hand, eye and sensory perception of sound, moving at speed, controlling a moving object much heavier than ourselves (and sometimes with several passengers and additional cargo), innately understanding the physics of movement within that vehicle, and so on, become automatic.  Not only can we drive on the busy highways and freeways, we can also listen to music, discuss complex concepts with our passengers and think about workplace conversations while driving at speed towards our chosen destination. 

If, however, as an experienced driver, you find yourself in a new city, town or country, the freeway is busy, traffic is merging and you are in the middle lane of a 5 lane freeway requiring an exit that you aren’t really sure about, you tend to turn off the radio, stop the conversation with your passengers (in fact, often tell them politely to “be quiet”) and intensify your concentration on the more basic tasks of driving and navigation. You pay attention to the more basic features of driving.  You minimise the distractions and concentrate on the tasks involved in keeping the car moving in the traffic to avoid an accident.  You may even experience physiological stress symptoms:  sudden perspiration or sweaty palms, faster breathing or breath holding, faster heart rate.  You feel yourself in a much more alert state.

Neuro-Developmental Educators help those who have Neuro-Motor Immaturity (the novice drivers in our analogy) address some of the underlying issues that may inhibit their capacity to learn and function in the world.  School, life and even home and daily life situations can be like a 6 lane super highway for these novice drivers. A child/adult with neuro-motor immaturity is like your novice driver being forced into that high intensity advanced driver situation of the busy freeway in another country with a car load of chatty passengers.  They really don’t have the skills or capacity to drive well in that situation, and, they definitely fatigue more quickly than the experienced driver; in some cases, that situation could be an accident or traumatic experience waiting to happen.  thinking pain

Neuro-Developmental Practitioners identify Neuro-Motor Immaturity and help address the underlying issues that may be contributing to the difficulties the person is experiencing.  The processes used incorporate principles of neuro-plasticity to build and enhance the neuro-physiological foundations required for learning. 

INPP Neuro Developmental Educators and Practitioners use the INPP method to address Neuro-motor immaturity. The INPP method of reflex integration is non-invasive and drug free and has been used in the UK for 40 years.  The INPP method has helped many children and adults with various problems including ADD, ASD, dyslexia and other learning and behavioural issues address this aspect of their limited capacity to function effectively in school, home or social situations.

For more information regarding the INPP program or becoming a Neuro-Developmental practitioner using the INPP method, contact Integrating Thinking: email: admin@integratingthinking.com.au or use our inquiry form on our website.

 Images sourced from Google images.

A PDF version of this post is available through this link: What is Neuro Developmental Education?

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