Learning Loves Movement

Ok, so this isn’t the promised continuation of Are Boys More Aggressive?

Again!  Sorry!

This evening something too exciting not to report happened: my six-year-old read his first book !!!!!! – a 1978 copy of The Berenstain Bears and The Spooky Old Tree, picked up from Value Village just a few days a go!  Wow!  I was shocked.

Also, I feel that in some strange ways boys’ so called aggressivity, need for impulsive physical activity, apparent lack of focusing skills etc.  may be linked to their learning to read and write….

My son was exhausted after a day of school, playing soccer and climbing around the small garden shed outside of school with friends after wards, then finally walking and running the 10 blocks home with a friend for a play date, climbing and jumping out of a tree on the way!  At home, he and his friend got decked out in a whole bunch of odds and ends that make up my son’s ninja gear (mostly picked up from Urban Source on Main street) and crawled around on the carpet, trying to sneak up on me, capture me or hit me with shuriken!

When our daycare kids and my son’s friend were all finally gone, my little dude collapsed on the sofa and in a sad voice said, “I wish I could still play with my friend and we were going to my dad’s house.” We talked about how he felt sad, lonely, and tired, and I realized he was starving too.  I knew if I left him alone and went to cook dinner he’d fall asleep on the sofa as is usual on school days, so I made up a snack, and we spent a little time  playing a board game together. I reminded him and do truly feel that he benefits from time alone to process the day.  I headed off to make dinner, and when I checked back in five minutes later, I found him reading!

This is not uncommon,  he has been making a lot of progress, sounding out words, recognizing many sight words, enjoying browsing books or ‘reading’ to himself for over two years.  In fact, last summer, on a camping trip, he announced he could read already, but only in his head, and never out loud to someone else.

The difference was that this evening, he was reading whole sentences out loud, didn’t stop when I entered the room….worked carefully over each word, struggling but not giving up, and occasionally asked me for help with a word here or there.  I went back to the kitchen and a few minutes later, I heard my son yell, “I’ve done it, I’ve read a whole book!”

You may be wondering what the title of this blog, Learning Loves Movement, has to do with my son’s incredible milestone.

Well, movement, physical exercise, physical chores like sweeping, and even fidgeting not only help children especially boys – to focus, pay attention, and cope with challenging emotions or stressful challenges, but also to develop their abilities to use abstract skills such as reading, writing and math!

Bilateral Stimulation and Proprioception Fancy words: Look them up.  Learning Loves Movement!

Who would have thunk!

At a time of day when many tired children would be watching tv or playing a video game, my son was finishing off teaching himself to read!

I remember the last two summers taking children aged four to six on long days to play in the woods and at the beach, returning home with toddlers napping in a stroller, and the ‘big kids’ eating cold fruit on ‘the stoop’ out front of the house, chillin’ in the late afternoon sun.  And then, out of the blue, of their own accord, just starting to do school work in chalk on the sidewalk: writing out words, numbers, math sentences, asking each other for help and correcting each other!  It seemed to me that after a long active day of outdoor play, they were ready to sit and concentrate!

My son told me later this evening after dinner, cuddling on the sofa, that he’d done shadow dancing in drama at school today (dancing behind a curtain with a light behind you creating the shadow).  He said he’d really enjoyed it and was amazed by how many compliments he got from classmates.  Of course, I know how much he loves dancing and what an awesome dancer he is.  I’m so pleased he’s had the chance to practice without pressure by himself, and so slowly get over his shyness.

This evening, it seemed he really had done enough physical activity, enough to be able to sit down and read his first book.

Tune in next time to read about and discuss:

  • What Barry MacDonald of http://www.mentoringboys.com and the book Boy Smarts has to say about bilateral stimulation.  I got this blog’s title from a talk of his I attended recently.
  • What Waldorf education has to say about proprioception.

loving my boy for who he is, wild moon-walking dancer, spear thrower, tree jumper, fence climber, uber-fidgeter….


This entry was posted in Aggression, learning through movement, movement, Play, Play Physical, proprioception, Unstructured and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Learning Loves Movement

  1. Edgymama says:

    Great post Belinda! More evidence that kids will learn what and when they are ready under the right conditions!

    Some say that boys tend to get turned off of reading and writing because they aren’t allowed to read about subjects they’re interested in. Something to think about.

  2. Pingback: Shake, Prattle and Drool!

  3. Belinda says:

    Thanks Edgymama, Glad you liked it! I do feel very strongly that children learn best through following their interests / curiosities. And, as my son picked up weapon play earlier than I’d hoped and was exposed to tv / movies /toys that ‘encourage’ battle play (against my choice), I struggled with what to do with this new fascination. I know you’ve coming up with really cool ways of delving into your son’s interest in transformers and pokemon. In my case, we enjoyed making our own swords and armour, learning about fencing rules, and fair play, and finally looking into both the history and mythology around warriors and battle. We also of course started our discussion around ‘good’ and ‘evil’. It seems that many children starting from around 4 years of age are seeking for answers to their questions about what is wrong and right, how each gender ‘should’ behave etc. as if this is the age that a moral code would begin to be taught…..sadly, the movie-toy-video game industry sweeps them up with it’s powerful messages on these delicate questions…my aim has always been to supplement this ‘force’ that i cannot protect my son from with many other amazing stories and examples….! Remind me one day to write about a First Nations story about a ‘transformer’ that my son and I heard at a Salmon Festival once.

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