Help children to develop social skills and improve their creativity. You just need to exercise the brain with thinking games

Exercise the brain by doing some some simple exercises, combined with body movements, to help children learn better. It can also help them develop social skills and improve their creativity, says Chantal Nonin, a Braingym instructor.

The left side of the brain thinks in details, while the right side gets the big picture, says Nonin. “People can get stuck on one side,” she adds. “We also learn with our dominant side.” So, to make learning more integrated (using both sides of the brain) we need movement and to cross the midline, that is the invisible line between our left and right sides of the body. Exercise the brain with thinking games, combined with body movement, to get children thinking  between both sides.

Some exercises to get the brain working:

Cross crawling

Bring up your right knee and touch it with your left hand, then repeat the movement with your left knee and right hand. Repeat for several minutes. Try moving your eyes up and down at the same time to get everything working together. Or use different body parts, like the right elbow touching the left foot.

Cross crawling with limited movement

Nonin says this is useful for children in the classroom, where they can move their left foot out at the same time as moving their right hand, and then vice versa.

Homolateral exercises

These work one side of the body at a time, and are generally done slowly, getting the body to calm down. Some of the movements mimic climbing a ladder or picking an apple from a tree. For something fun, walk like a string puppet or a zombie.

Figure of eight

Draw an imaginary figure of eight or infinity sign in the air in front of you. You can also use your eyes to draw the figure of eight. In fact, you can use any body part to draw the sign (even your bum). This crosses the midline of the brain and body and accesses and relaxes different parts of the brain, eyes and body.

The Rocker

This exercise uses the figure of eight idea, but works all sorts of body parts, develops core muscles and helps to release muscles and get the spinal fluid flowing. Lie down on your back, with your knees up. Imagine that you have a pencil held between your knees and draw the figure of eight on the roof. You may need some assistance with this at first.

These exercises can also help children who may have missed out on some developmental milestones, it’s worth the try.

Tamlyn Vincent