Learning, thought, and creativity involve the whole body and brain. Children begin learning through sensory experiences. These experiences serve to build neural networks that provide a framework for more learning. We are all born with a dominant eye, ear, hand, foot, and brain hemisphere. When we are learning something new or experience emotional stress, we will favor that dominance for input and processing. By developing an understanding of the dominant hand, foot, eye, ear, and brain hemisphere, and helping students better understand themselves as learners can lead to more success.
- The vestibular system controls proprioception, which is the sense of movement. It controls balance and is the entryway to the brain. Children activate the vestibular system by spinning and balancing, which stimulates the brain for new learning.
- The vestibular system controls balance, locomotion, discrimination of speech and language, coordination of vision with movement, maintains an arousal state, and alert response. A disturbance of the vestibular system is a major cause of learning disabilities.
- Sitting still to pay attention for kids with an underdeveloped or disturbance of the vestibular system is impossible. They actually need to move to pay attention. When they move the damaged tissue of the vestibular system can develop and become more myelinated. Stimulating the vestibular system with integrated movement and playful fun music allows these children to develop the new nerve networks necessary for learning and memory
- Touch contributes to full understanding. Children always reach to touch new things. They really do "see" with their hands.
- There are two different kinds of vision; foveal focus and peripheral vision.
- We use peripheral vision to take in our surroundings in a three-dimensional world.
- Foveal focus is key to sharp central vision such as reading, writing, or anything else where details are important.
- Before kids come to school, they learn in a three-dimensional world through multi-sensory experiences developing strong peripheral vision. This builds a neural network of images for learning. For young children, information gathered through the senses creates a foundation on which to build.
- The shift to two-dimensional learning for children can be difficult for their eyes because most children's eyes are not physically ready to read at age 5. The fovea naturally develops and is prepared for reading around age 7 or 8.
- We are all born with a built-in stress response. When children are under emotional stress, their eyes automatically move to the periphery to search for danger. This makes tracking words on a page almost impossible. If the stress is continual, the outer eye muscles strengthen, and the inner eye muscles lengthen, which makes the foveal focus more difficult. With this, reading becomes even more difficult.
- Words are understood for kids when they produce an image that they then can hook into a neural network.
- Each side of the body communicates sensory information to the opposite hemisphere.
- The left hemisphere, which is usually the logic hemisphere deals with details, parts, the process of language, and linear patterns.
- The Gestalt hemisphere, which is usually the right hemisphere, deals in whole processing, global images, rhythm in motion, and intuition.
- Each hemisphere has a growth spurt. The logic hemisphere's growth spurt usually happens between the ages 7 and 9, and the Gestalt growth spurt usually occurs between the ages of 4 and 7. Teaching the bits and pieces of reading and math to very young children does not honor their natural biology and can create stress.
- The white matter of the corpus callosum connects the two hemispheres of the brain.
- Well-Developed corpus callosum is like a superhighway that allows fast access to both hemispheres, giving full access to the unique abilities of both sides of the brain.
- When we increase access to both hemispheres, we increase intelligent function. People must use both hemispheres to maximize potential.
- Increased use of both hemispheres results in increased dendritic branching and myelin across the corpus callosum, which equals faster, more efficient access.
- Coordination and balance activities stimulate the production of dopamine which contributes to a stronger, more integrated brain.
- Integrated cross-lateral movements that include sensory activities and balance help to wake up the body and mind for learning. It creates more connections between neurons and builds a stronger corpus callosum to gain greater access to skills in both hemispheres.
- Planning for multi-sensory learning not only meets needs but helps kids gain better access to all their abilities.
- There are simple ways to learn our own dominance profile and those of our students.
- Having this information and working to accommodate the profiles can help teachers help kids learn more easily.
This is a great article on the senses & multi-sensory learning.
KQED News - Mind/Shift Experience To Learn
KQED News - Mind/Shift Experience To Learn
Dr. Carla Hannaford, author of Smart Moves - Why Learning Isn't All In Your Head and The Dominance Factor - How Knowing Your Dominant Eye, Ear, Brain, Hand & Foot Can Improve Your Learning. has done extensive work with children, integrating movement, and dominance profiles.
How does lateral dominance contribute to learning differences?