I use both Brain Gym and Yoga extensively in my classroom. In my very first year of teaching, I started in October after school had been in session for two months. I was given a class comprising of the lowest achieving "at risk" kindergartners from each existing kindergarten class. After 3 months with no progress, I was given the opportunity to observe a Kindergarten and 1st grade teacher team at a neighboring school who each taught a class of "at risk" students. They went through kindergarten entrance scores at the beginning of the year and took the lowest scores, behavior issues, and disabilities into their classrooms. What I saw was amazing - happy engaged children who were learning at an amazing rate. Children who were at the developmental age of 2 or 3 years made 3-6 years of growth in two years of being with these two wonderful teachers.
How did they do it? Brain Gym and movement combined with a structured and comfortable classroom environment taking into account each child's dominance factors. The children spent a minimum of 1 and a half hours a day engaged in Brain Gym type movements. After taking this model back to my classroom, my students instantly began learning and retaining information
Inspiration. Seeing the students in these classrooms and my own and the advancements they made as a result of participating in whole brain exercises sparked my interest in getting a Brain Gym certification and I have been hooked ever since. If you ever have the opportunity to go to a Brain Gym training, I highly recommend it! If you do not get that opportunity, there are many great books that could get you started. I recommend looking through the resources listed below.
In addition to Brain Gym training, I trained for and earned my certification as a yoga teacher. I also took a YogaKids Tools for Schools course and would highly recommend that as well. Many yoga poses are similar to Brain Gym exercises and are so much fun. They promote a peaceful learning environment within the classroom as well as some great strengthening, relaxing, and focusing exercises.
Resources for Brain Gym and Yoga
Brain Gym and Yoga in the Classroom
How do I fit Brain Gym and Yoga into my daily schedule?
I schedule Brain Gym and Yoga into every classroom day. Some people may ask, "How can I fit it into my schedule?", but my question is, "How can you afford not to?". I have seen that it is so valuable, that it is a necessity in my classroom. Here are two of the ways that I've scheduled these exercises into my day. Any of these exercises can be beneficial at any time, but I find them most beneficial before we begin our major lessons of the day.
In kindergarten, we used the following schedule in the which incorporated Brain Gym into our morning routine:
- School starts
- Morning Work
- Morning Meeting, Greeting and Songs
- Brain Gym and Yoga
- Word Wall
In 2nd grade, I have used the following schedule which incorporates both yoga and Brain Gym into our classroom at 3 times during the day:
- School starts
- Morning Work and book checkout
- Enrichment classes (PE, Art, or Music)
- Brain Gym
- ... (lots of other activities)
- End of the day Yoga
Take 5 Space (a "Time out" alternative)
As a part of my classroom management this year, I incorporated a "Take 5" space into my classroom. This space is set aside for students who need to take a break from the classroom activities to focus or to calm personal energy. The space includes a display of yoga poses that will help calm and focus, yoga cards that show different poses, a couple of yoga books (see below) and a yoga mat.
When a student is sleepy, not focused, or being disruptive, I ask them to go "Take 5" and they go to the yoga mat. This is a great alternative to a "time out" space. My students and I have discussed how sometimes we get sleepy or have excessive energy that we need to take care of. We also discussed that certain physical exercises (like yoga or Brain Gym) can help us calm our bodies or energize us. This gives our "Take 5" space a neutral association. A "time out" space is known to be for the "bad" kids but my students see the "Take 5" space as a space to go to when you just need to focus.
Brain Gym Resources
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