There are three basic learning processes that we employ:
From a very early age your child uses their eyes to make sense of the world.
Children learn through observation of their world. In fact 90% of our information is sensed by our eyes and 40% of links in our brain are visual processes. Seeing is important! Children link their knowledge to prior learning and filter it through the emotional centres to understand and gain meaning from what they are seeing. Through vision, children can detect motion, depth, contrast, location, colour and detail.
Children learning using visual processing are still developing their skills. Often children who have difficulty with visual processing have poor depth perception and are clumsy and have poor hand eye co-ordination making it difficult for them to catch and throw balls. Often these children become fatigued quickly when reading or writing. They slow down even after reading just a few lines. Some miss or skip words and lines or re-read the same line. Children may display a frequent and chronic reversal of letters or words and show poor writing skills. Confusions of little words such as on/no, for/from, was/saw are common.
If you are concerned about your child’s visual processing it is very important to have the child’s eyes assessed by a behavioural optometrist. These professionals specialise in working with children and visual processing, as opposed to acuity, i.e. 20/20 vision.
As a qualified and experienced LEAP practitioner I know the LEAP program has specific balances to balance visual integration, co-ordinate eye movement, and balance the brain for integrated visual processing.
Sound or speech processing, like visual processing, is complex. When processing speech the average person can manage about four to five pieces of information at a time and process oral instructions or directions fairly easily.
Listening and speaking are processes that are very important for children to be able to interact in our world. Young children are able to hear speech in the uterus. Their receptive language and the storage of that language begin then and continue through life.
Children process huge amounts of auditory information daily in the home, community and classroom. How effectively they do this directly relates to how they socialise in these environments. Auditory integration is essential for social interaction in their family, their class and in their neighbourhood.
Children with poor auditory integration and perception are easily distracted by sounds that others consider ‘background’ noise. They have difficulties listening to conversations and screening other distractions.
These children quickly become overloaded trying to listen to instructions and often get into trouble for “not listening”. Little relevant information is processed as the child is often isolating themselves from the confusion and switching off to the barrage of sounds.
If you are concerned about your child’s hearing, it is important to have their hearing checked by a qualified audiologist. This will check the child’s ability to hear accurately. When problems appear to be around integration and discrimination and not due to a hearing loss, then a speech pathologist either via the school or privately, will assess the child’s ability to process language.
The LEAP program has balances for the auditory system and auditory processing as well as the integrative pathways. Further balances on the Reticular Activating System to filter out ‘background’ noises are important to maintain wakefulness, attention and inference.
As children grow they begin to reach out to touch their environment and interact with their own body, toys, other people and eventually begin exploring by crawling, walking and playing with their surroundings. They begin to understand where their body is in space according to other items (body and spatial awareness).
During these interactions thousands of neural pathways are created in the brain to allow the child to practise movement skills and develop processes for working their bodies. Gross motor skills include large muscle groups for walking, running and throwing and fine motor skills develop later for using fingers and toes to experience opening, closing, writing and cutting.
The brain develops highly specialised processes to learn movement, co-ordinate movements and then store and retrieve movements that are repeated and needed regularly. Various parts of the brain integrate to help us to remember movements and then move in a co-ordinated manner.
Research tells us that movement skills are directly linked to academic skills. It has been shown by research that often children who have or have had difficulty crawling, walking or running lack co-ordination and have difficulties with their school work. With this in mind, it would make sense to bombard our children with loads of activities that support them in the development of balanced and co-ordinated body movement.
Children who have poor muscle tone and walk or run with difficulty often have trouble organising themselves and their environment and developing their general knowledge library.
Clumsy children continually bump into others or objects, have poor spatial and body awareness and have difficulty problem solving and analysing and developing maths concepts.
When children have trouble co-ordinating left and right body parts in activities such as rowing, running and ball skills, they often have difficulty with their verbal skills in both spoken and written language.
Difficulty maintaining balance when moving and being unable to cross the midline of the body with arms and legs can lead to difficulties with sequencing and reading skills.
If your child is experiencing difficulties with any of the areas mentioned above, it is valuable to have an assessment completed by an occupational therapist, chiropractor, osteopath, physiotherapist or a LEAP practitioner skilled in working with children.
Children need to move and be active. They naturally will play run and jump if we encourage them to turn off the television and go outside in the garden, go to the park or entertain their friends. Encourage them to be active and model this yourself by exercising regularly. A family cricket or soccer game is a brilliant way to get to know each other while learning and switching on your brain.
Physical activity supports learning by increasing circulation to the brain; and it’s fun, so it makes kids feel good. When we exercise more oxygen goes to our muscles and brain. Any team sports or family games are fantastic ways of building co-ordination, improving balance and developing social skills. They are fun and I encourage you to get out and play with your children. Remember all physical activity helps your child to be brainier! Move and be brilliant. Your child’s co-ordination is developing, so go easy and encourage all attempts and improvements.