“I feel calm – now I know what to do when my brothers and sisters are annoying me..!” The words from an 11 year old student who has been practising BAL-A-VIS-X ( rhythmic, BALance.Auditory,VISion,eXercises) at school, as a method to help her learn more easily. She has now found out that it can be therapeutic for coping with sibling rivalry too.

Having the ability to be in a state of calm whilst learning is extremely beneficial – WHY?

Learning at any age can be  stressful, whether it is at school, home, college, university or in the workplace. When we are under stress our 2 brain hemispheres – left and right, of which we have a dominant and a non-dominant – react, and it is our non – dominant one that reduces it’s working hours and shuts down,leaving us with only one side of our brain functioning – the dominant side.  Now this might sound pretty good as it is the dominant that continues to function,BUT the wiring in the brain is such that our 2 brain hemispheres work our senses on the opposite side, so if we have some or all of our other senses on the same side as our dominant brain,what happens?

For a child in a school learning environment all visual and auditory, as well as the ability to communicate and move freely can be extremely limited, as they are now working in a “unilateral state“(with only one brain hemisphere). You may note that your own child or student displays some of the following behaviours/emotions:

  • tries and tries but no results
  • little or no understanding
  • unhappy
  • feels overwhelmed
  • cannot remember details
  • difficulty expressing him/herself
  • in their own world
  • tense, depressed

To learn optimally we require both brain hemispheres to function together, equally well, which is called an “integrated state“.

How do we MOVE from this unilateral state to a whole-brained integrated state?

Physical movement can be the gateway to whole brained learning. Specifically “cross lateral” movements which involve moving hands,feet,eyes from one side of the body, crossing the bodies midline, to co-ordinate with the other side.

There are many activities we can encourage our children to participate in from 0 years upwards. Crawling is considered an essential part of a child’s development to help establish the neural links between the 2 brain hemispheres. Some activities that involve cross-lateral movement are:

  • crawling,creeping
  • conscious walking – in a straight line, along a rope on the floor, balance beam, bridge etc
  • climbing – stairs, tree, indoor climbing wall
  • dancing
  • playing a musical instrument
  • knitting
  • drawing with both hands at the same time
  • playing with playdough,plasticine,clay
  • knitting
  • many sports – swimming, skating, ski-ing, surfing,martial arts, tennis, football, volley ball, hockey, aerobics, gymnastics…….

The idea that movement and exercise does not only improve learning at school/work, but can also help with stress, depression, anxiety and more is surely an opportunity to TRY!

” My brain feels like it is buzzing, half-way through the exercise , it just kinda’ like feels all fired up – it’s good!”

10 year old student learning a new BAL-A-VIS-X exercise at school, yesterday……

For more information relating to this blog, please refer to:

Resonance: Elise and Other Bal-A-Vis-X Stories by Bill Hubert;Spark by Dr John Ratey and Eric Hugeman; The Dominance Factor by Carl Hannaford, PHD; The Users Guide to the Brain by Dr John Ratey


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