The Brain Gym: Coaching Your Child’s Mind To Think Differently
What does your 13-year-old son do on a free Sunday? How does your school going daughter spend her leisure time? Most parents would unanimously agree on a few popular choices- TV, video games, internet surfing, chatting on the phone!
Educationists often wonder if these mindless pastimes are because children lack better and more intelligent activities that challenge the mind. Innovative training programs such as the BRAIN GYM provides one such solution to gear brain cells for more activity, making both leisure and study interesting for children.
Using The Head:
The Brain Gym concept was first invented by a California doctor, Paul Dennison, 40 years ago. According to the Brain Gym website,
Brain Gym consists of 26 easy and enjoyable targeted activities such as “drawing, tracing symbols in the air, yawning, and drinking water” which bring about rapid and often dramatic improvements in concentration, memory, organizing, listening, physical coordination, and more.
The Brain Gym concept became a rage in India around 5 years ago with organizations adopting its exercises for stress relief, concentration and improving productivity at work. But the biggest advantage of these programs has been in the field of education.
Initially brain gym exercises were being used primarily to teach to children with dyslexia, autism and hyperactivity. But of late, Indian educationists have begun to realize the benefits of including the activities for students in regular mainstream schools as well.
Gundecha Educational Academy, Mumbai, has recently allocated a 30-minute period called “Mind Genius” for students between Class III to VI. The program conducted by trained faculty from the company, Mind Genius (path breakers in the field of mind mapping), has a weekly session on 3 primary areas: Vision and Goals, Brain Gym and Mind Control.
Some of the activities aimed at improving concentration, memory, out of the box thinking, and reasoning include word games, puzzles, memory joggers, researching the meanings of proverbs etc.
Other activities are more centered on personality enhancement such as keeping a diary recording your personal growth, strength, weaknesses etc. They also have sessions on public speaking where children are video taped as they make a speech, meant to improve their confidence.
Shalini Arora mother of Tanishqa, a Std VIth student at Gundecha claims “Tanishqa was a bit reserved earlier, but the personality development and confidence building activities have all made her more vocal and outgoing. She now asks some very logical questions and actively researches the internet for information. Her new-found creativity amazes me. This Diwali she came up with the idea of creating innovative cards for everyone.”
Why Brain Gym?
We asked a few educationists and parents for their take on the need for brain gyms.
1. Young minds need exercise
Kinnari Sharma, marketing executive with Time-Life International, which produces educational material says “The child’s brain is a powerful muscle, the more these muscles are exercised, the faster it develops. Even at age one, a child can enjoy reading from a book if taught in the right way.”
2. Children need more than just rote learning
Experts have always believes that children need far more than the educational system can provide. Their capacity and brain growth is usually hampered by the dull routine of regular school work which usually includes cramming, memorizing and reproducing concepts on the exam answer sheet.
Swapnali Bhadlekar, a primary school teacher from Thane, backs this up “Many students in my class come up with innovative ways to do things, sometimes write creative essays or ask out of the box questions. But the educational system and heavy syllabus spare no time for us teachers to explore this side of their thinking. I’m sure if a Brain Gym was made compulsory in every school we would have fewer failures and more genius minds emerging”
3. Boosts innovation and creativity
Tanishaqa’s mother Shalini, herself a corporate trainer- who operates her own Management Consultancy- realizes the immense value of such programs. “Children need activities which help them grow as a person,” she says.
“For instance, Tanishqa has shown a huge jump in her levels of pro-activity and curiosity. She is taking part in a school funfair where the children need to set up stalls and manage sales. All this encourages entrepreneurship and money management skills… much needed in later life.”
4. May help reduce exam anxiety
Seeing the alarming increase in exam result related suicides among children, Brain Gym type activities may also be the answer to deal with the crushing exam pressure and intense competition.
SIP Academy, a Chennai based institute runs abacus and brain gym programs at 350 centers across India and claims to have trained 50,000 students. Their programs use various techniques that help students focus, study better, lower fatigues and reduce exam anxiety.
Rupali Mehta from Mumbai enrolled her daughter for brain gym training and saw its benefits “Now Sanjana can study up to two subjects a day during exams,” says Rupali. Her daughter regularly does a few exercises before she sits to study every day.
The corporate world today is paying heavy attention to training their employees in “softer” skills such as reasoning, logical decision making, negotiation, team building and positive attitude. This is because research indicates that 75% of long term success depends on these skills more than technical expertise.
Unfortunately schools prepare children for everything but these all-important crucial areas, which then account for the high amount of conflict, pressure and poor relationships evident in the work world today.
With the advent of trainings such as Brain Gym, we can only hope that the future of the Indian Academic scenario will see a dramatic change in its system of education.
A Brain Gym Activity For Relaxation:
- Lazy 8s:
Align the body with a point at eye level. This will be the midpoint of the 8. Then using your left hand first, activate your right hemisphere. Start on the mid-line and move counter clockwise — up, over and around.
The eyes follow an eight, the head moves slightly and the neck remains relaxed. Do three repetitions with each hand separately, and then with both together. Two colors of chalk or ink should be used. Humming while doing the Lazy 8 works better.
- Brain Gym® (educational kinesiology), n.d.
- Mind games in the gym, Varuna Verma
- Brain Gym definition
- Kids learn to exercise little grey cells, Priya Ramakrishnan, October 10, 2008. Retrieved 26th October
- Brain Gym: Simple Activities for Whole Brain Learning
Copyright © H’vovi Bhagwagar
H’vovi Bhagwagar is a Clinical Psychologist and trained MBTI® Practitioner. Along with her private practice, she conducts training programmes on life skills and writes for various publications. She hopes to bring a smile to as many faces as possible. Visit her website at www.hvovikesaath.com and email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Early Loving Early Learning: Loving Ways to Make Your Baby Smarter – Learn amazing secrets about early nurturing that will have lifelong benefits to your baby’s development – without feeling overcome by guilt and stress or having to create a whole new lifestyle.
- Instant Learning® For Amazing Grades – Your child’s learning style may not match their school’s written testing style. New discovery about learning styles raises grades and test scores in just 14 days.
- How To Develop Your Child’s Genius – An information packed package including ebooks and recordings about activities parents can do with their child to increase their intelligence.
This article may be reprinted with the complete author bio and a link back to http://www.lovingyourchild.com
Brain Gym workshop