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Stretch up to the stars . . .
Let’s blow up our balloons!
Tickle those brain buttons!
Crossy, crossy . . .
These simple exercises at the beginning of every Kindermusik class blow by quickly and are a delightful routine we employ to kick things off. You might think it’s just for funsies. You might think it’s just a nice way to get children’s attention. But no! While it IS fun and it IS attention grabbing, there is so much MORE that is going on.
These activities are adapted from Brain Gym, an incredible research based program that was developed to help people build better brains. Brain Gym employs carefully designed movement techniques to optimize cognitive functioning.
When you hear your educator say “Let’s get our brains and bodies ready for learning!” before they kick into these crossies and double doodles, they mean it. These exercises are structured to prime the brain for focus and learning.
Let’s break it down.
Blowing up those balloons is a motivating way to get children to deepen their breaths. With slower, deeper breaths they receive more oxygen to their brain. Oxygen is crucial for higher brain functioning. It is centering and grounding. It relaxes the central nervous system. It readies the brain and body for movement, increasing energy, focus, and attention span.
This refers to the soft tissue underneath the clavicles, on either side of the sternum. When you massage these spots it activates the brain to receive an increase of oxygen. This is achieved by stimulation of the carotid artery, sending increased blood supply to the brain. Additionally, it increases flow of electromagnetic energy to the brain.
Increasing this oxygen and energy supply for the brain primes it for learning. It improves the individual’s ability to learn new skills, solve problems, and move with coordination. It also helps relax the neck and shoulders which in turn decreases cortisol, the stress hormone.
We know from Conscious Discipline that learning cannot take place unless our brains are in the Executive State. Stress and cortisol knock us out of the Executive State. But this deep breathing and brain button massage helps lower that cortisol, regulates our nervous system, and puts us in a place where learning can happen.
This fun activity is an example of midline movement.
When the limbs of the body cross over the vertical midline it has a variety of benefits. It creates activity across the corpus callosum, integrating both the right and left hemispheres of the brain. This creates new neural pathways so the brain can work more efficiently, communicating between its different parts with greater ease. This makes learning new information and accomplishing tasks easier for the individual.
Additionally it creates core strength, develops coordination, and increases both fine and gross motor skills. A simple activity like this builds foundational skills that will help children as they learn to walk, run, write, tie their shoelaces, and more. Any activity that requires cross-motor skills will be more easily mastered.
A favorite of so many students! This activity has been adapted to suit the abilities of the very young children we see at Song of the Heart, simplifying it somewhat from the rather advanced motor movement developed by the Brain Gym.
As your child moves their extremities in bilateral circles they develop hand-eye coordination and better spatial awareness. It helps integrate the brain stem with the frontal lobes, gives improved peripheral vision, increases body awareness, and coordination.
As you can see, this quick routine has a myriad of benefits beneath its veneer of fun. It is a FEAST for the brain, giving you and your child the best start for class. Try it at home to start your day. Do it with your child or even just by yourself. These simple activities can help everyone, of any age, refresh their brains, giving both a boost and a reset. This is why we enrich the Kindermusik curriculum with this “smart start”. We hope you love it as much as we do!