It has been said that a child’s job is to play, and this is true in ways that many adults never consider. The formative years, when children engage in play and lots of activity, are the years when much of a child’s learning takes place which will carry them for the rest of their lives. Even if their activity seems unconnected to the learning task at hand, the use of the body during problem solving changes the way kids view puzzles and basic problem solving and literature skills.
Embodied learning is the idea that students perform at their best when they can move beyond simple mental processes and act out the problems using basic body functions. Movement becomes a vital part of the intellectual growth of the child. During reading time, for example, a child may stand up, dance, gesture or otherwise react to or act out the events of a story. This helps them to process, understand and process the elements of the book being read.
Moving and Reality
All the way back in 1936, Maria Montessori outlined how the mind and body work together in her seminal book The Secret of Childhood. Montessori stated that movement brings a person into contact with the external reality around them. Such contact eventually enables the acquisition, processing and understanding of abstract ideas.
Proof of Process
Recent studies have demonstrated the truth of Montessori’s claims. Children as early as four months of age are seen to drastically improve learning and potential for academic success with earlier, frequent movement. These findings hold true even when economics, educational and other factors are taken into account.
Movement and Exploration
When a child moves about and engages in physical activity, they explore the world around them. As you read a story to the child, or encourage them to read with you, they may use movement, activity and physical play to explore the elements of the text in front of them. Such exploration is a game changer for kids, which allows them to understand direction and complex language.
If you child engages in such exploration, it’s important for you as a parent to engage and encourage this behavior. Coach them on their exploration and encourage them to explain their behaviors and what they are doing. As they become more capable of doing things on their own, they gain a greater understanding of how and why others act as they do.
Use of the hands and body in a physical environment has a marked effect on the structure and functionality of the brain, which in turn translates into better cognitive and intellectual functions. In short, a child who explores their environment may turn into a better reader!
It may extend your reading time with your child, but encouraging them to both read aloud and explore the world around them as they read can greatly improve their intellectual processes and future potential for academic success. An interactive story, perhaps one that explores “What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?” can be a great way to start. Give us a try and take a look at what we’ve got to offer to get your child off to a great start today!