We adults take for granted how our bodies operate, and how the experiences of our bodies teach us to understand the world around us. Without the incredible and finely-tuned machine called our body, our brain would be at a loss to describe the world. Our ability to see, touch, feel, hear, move, and control ourselves in relationship to the environment is the slate that academic learning is etched on.
Some children learn quickly and automatically, launching into the academic environment with fervor and joy; their bodies and their brains learn at an incredible speed. Yet as they continue to grow and more is demanded of them, they slip and begin to have difficulty, or even fail.
Some children seem to have pervasive problems from the start. The difficulty they feel in interpreting their environment clouds their ability to learn even the simplest concepts. They feel impending doom and failure when confronted with any task.
It becomes apparent in both cases that their bodies do not have the strong foundation of fundamental skills necessary to transmit information needed by the brain in academic endeavors. Motor skills are necessary for a child to communicate, for example, in the form of writing, speaking or keyboarding. Movement cannot be separated from knowing and understanding; movement is part of what we remember as we learn. Movement also cannot be separated from accomplishments; it is part of how we express what we have learned.
In the past 25 years I have spent time as a pediatric physical therapist, primarily in the school setting. My heart would ache as I watched children stumble and fall through the cracks in the system. Those I knew as capable youngsters in kindergarten become frustrated failures by the third or fourth grade, academically and behaviorally. As I began to search and study, and as a mother of children dealing with some of these issues, I recognized a pattern in their struggles. I began to share the knowledge and insight the Lord gave me with teachers and parents.
Our young children are now straining under the academic load intended for a more mature child. The philosophy of “if they don’t get it, teach it earlier” has only been harmful. At the same time, fear for safety, the necessity of working mothers, and technological recreation has eliminated the freedom of unrestricted play. How can our children learn to perform difficult academic tasks with bodies that have had little practice?
My desire in creating this program is to help you understand our children’s reasons for success and failure, how to support them, how to help their bodies grow, and how to offer them solutions to the frustrations in their lives.
Athena Oden, P.T.