“A Moving Child Is A Learning Child”

One of the most inspiring voices I’ve encountered in the world of Young Children is the team of Moving Smart Now!, comprised of Gill Connell and Cheryl McCarthy. Together they have written a must-have movement guide for anyone working or living with a young child. “A Moving Child is A Learning Child” takes parent, student, caregiver and teacher through the steps of “How the Body Teaches the Brain to Think”.

“Children aren’t born with body awareness.” Such a simple statement packs a punch once you really think about the complexity of development a baby undergoes while growing into a healthy and happy young boy or girl. Reading this book not only increased my sense of wonder about how children learn and grow, but deepened my understanding of how critical movement is to learning and the brain.

“Gill’s Notebook” provides anecdotes and real life stories from Gill Connell’s 30+ years experience in Early Childhood Education. The book includes “Family Moves”, printable diagrams and handouts for families, as well as “Motorvators”, quick, easy games to promote movement in the classroom or to help transition a toddler from home to the next activity. Handouts explaining to parents exactly WHY and HOW freeplay helps their child grow are invaluable to any teacher or caregiver.

The book contains clear, attractive scientific diagrams and language to show how movement is the basis for all learning in young children. Does your daughter keep saying, “Again, Daddy! Again?” There’s a reason! And it’s all grounded in science, movement and learning.

Gill and Cheryl have created a “Kinetic Scale” that breaks down how the “Senses, Balance, Intuition, Power, Coordination and Control” are the key components to the development of language. “A Moving Child is A Learning Child” talks about how roughhousing is a form of Tai Chi for children and looking at a book upside down is the kid equivalent to an adults practice of yoga! Brilliant!

Movement is an area that often gets overlooked and ignored among the thousands of tomes on early reading and writing, yet movement is the basis for reading and writing. How refreshing it is to see exactly how the child is always doing the work of learning naturally. “A Moving Child is A Learning Child” interprets the child’s  developmental movements and translates them into their correlating larger skill sets on the path to language, reading, writing and being a healthy, social child.

Cheryl and Gill take us “beyond gross and fine motor skills” and force us to take a hard look at the learning that goes on in the “whole body”. Included in the book are what to look for in high quality playgrounds and how crawling through tunnels and spinning helps the child develop later writing skills. As the adults creating the environments for children to learn in, we must be aware of what high quality learning spaces and opportunities look like for the young child and exactly how they translate to learning.

With more and more emphasis being placed on “academic achievement” for even the youngest of students and children, I cannot underscore the importance of this book enough. Policy makers, administration and the public, along with those who learn and teach alongside young children each day, need a constant reminder that the wiggles and spins and yells are all a part of the natural path to learning. Parents and caregivers can all benefit from becoming more in tune and aware of the vast and expressive non verbal world of the young child.

“A Moving Child is A Learning Child” helps us all see the child in the light of their most powerful voice, their movement! It’s a brilliant read with beautiful photographs, diagrams and layout, and it couldn’t have been written by two more knowledgeable and kind people who clearly delight in the world of children. Gill Connell and Cheryl McCarthy have created an essential resource for movement and the joy of learning. I highly recommend you get Moving Smart Now! and head right over to read this book!

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#Kinderblog2012 Q#1 Attempt #2

What did you learn this past (or, for our southern hemisphere friends, what ARE you learning this current) school year that you couldn’t have learned any other year, from any other students or colleagues or administrators or parents? What lessons did this particular year, this particular setting, these particular children bring into your life?

posted by @happycampergirl for #Kinderchat #Kinderblog2012 Challenge

So here I had this all typed up yesterday. I was desperately trying to weave the story of a very messy year into some type of neat package and let’s just say, it wasn’t working. Yes, it was a rough year. Rough kids, rough parents, rough everything and even rougher to describe it and address it all publicly.

I knew it would be a tough one as the teacher the class had the last year was barely speaking in syllables by the end. She warned me, I knew what I was getting into. I was prepared.

I sat on the bed next to my coteacher the summer before school started. I told her about the class. We laughed and cried and remembered stories of difficult parents, difficult kids and yet memories of such fun years teaching together. She typed out and asked me what would I name them. Every class has a different and unique name. When I taught PreSchool it was always animals. Now in Kindergarten, since we planted the garden, its a vegetable or flower.

I told Mary I was thinking of dandelions because I love dandelions and have always had a thing with them. I was determined to see the good in this class.”Some see wishes, some see weeds” I’ve always said about dandelions. I love that. It’s all a matter of perspective, I said.

Just imagine if golfers hit them instead of balls….golf balls of wishes being launched into the air and everyone would make a wish instead of politely clap. Such beautiful white puffs of wonder.

Mary typed “Dandelions? No. It’s a weed. (we laughed at her finality on the subject) They need calm….maybe Chamomile” As soon as she typed it, bang, that was the name. You don’t have a woman type with the movements of her eyes and NOT name the class that name! Plus, I loved it, it was perfect. We became “The Cozy Chamomile Class” that very day.

The year, and Mary passed and now I’m nested in this little cottage filled with Teresa’s art (that’s the lady who rented it to me for the week) Teresa welcomed me so warmly and had two little vases of fresh flowers inside the cottage waiting for me. And a copy of “The Language of Flowers” beside my bed.

Well, I was determined to not read the book. I quit reading back in ’87 or was it ’95? I don’t know but I wasn’t going to read it. Fine? Fine. I opened the jacket yesterday morning just to prove myself right. I finished it bawling on the beach late today. And was up late last night obsessing about flowers and was there a pinterest directory of the meaning, etc etc. I googled the “Language of Flowers” and found the author had made a dictionary– not with the photographs that I could find yet, but the flowers and their meanings anyway.

So last night, after working and reworking and flailing about with this post, giving up and instead thinking about how much work it would take to make a pinterest or what-else-could-I-use dictionary of flower meanings and photographs, I suddenly came across “chamomile” Stunned, I read its meaning: “Energy in Adversity.”

I’ll have to reflect on all that a bit longer.