Using Muscles for Memory


Wiggles! Kids seem to be full of them and they can make sitting still, learning, focusing, and concentrating extra hard!

If you can’t fight ’em, join ’em. Time to use those big muscles to help kids learn!

I have a chin-up bar hanging over a doorway near where we do homeschool. Over the years of raising lots of wiggly, restless boys (and girls), I have found the chin-up bar to be worth its weight in gold! Tape a scripture or poem to the wall in view of the chin-up bar, and you’ll be amazed at how quickly those children can memorize while they swing.

One mother I know told me she taught her very active son his phonics sounds by placing big flashcards around her large family room and having him run, jump, hop, crab-crawl, somersault, and otherwise use his big muscles to retrieve the cards, making the phonics sound as he went. Pretty creative. Pretty hard to forget information taught that way!

Ammon, my son, was a very wiggly little boy—so restless in fact that he had trouble holding still during school. (He is the one who caused me to write Happy Phonics, a game-based phonics program to teach wigglers to read!) Whenever I tried to go through flashcards with Ammon, he would end up upside down on the couch: his head touching the floor and his feet sprawled up in the air. Rather than spending my time lecturing him, I learned to work with it. I think Ammon learned to read upside down! (He is a studious, intelligent 15 year old now, who can sit still and concentrate longer than I can!)

Thanks to advances in brain research, we now know that most of the brain is activated during physical activity—much more so than when doing seatwork. In fact . . . sitting for more than 10 minutes at a stretch ‘reduces our awareness of physical and emotional sensations and increases fatigue’ . . . [resulting] in reduced concentration and, most likely, discipline problems. Movement, on the other hand, increases blood vessels that allow for the delivery of oxygen, water, and glucose (‘brain food’) to the brain. And this can’t help but optimize the brain’s performance! (More Movement, Smarter Kids by Rae Pica)

So, if you are having a tough time getting your kids to hold still and learn, how about getting them to move and learn?


May I recommend:

What to Do with a Restless Little Boy?

October 1696
Memorizing Magic

Happy Phonics

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Take A Walk!

rivertreesI really didn’t want to go. I had far too much to do, but I had committed to try to take better care of myself, so I was going. I had to yank myself up off the couch, and put on my walking shoes and force myself. I pleaded with family members to go walking with me so we could talk, as I had so much busy-ness on my mind. No luck. So I was alone on my walk.

I am fortunate that across the street and down a little path past the farmer’s corn fields and horse pastures is the river bottoms, an isolated area where the trees grow next to the river, muskrats and birds abound, and it is very serene. The stillness and solitude washed over me and slowed down my rattling mind with each step. The sun warmed up my shoulders. Nature seems to whisper, “Don’t hurry. There is a time for every season under heaven.”

Problems that had been fussing in my mind for some time now seemed solvable. I didn’t have an answer, but that walk made me feel like I could cope with things, and that solutions would be possible to find.

When I had 7 children in my homeschool including a prickly teenager, toddlers and a nursing baby, my daily walk was so very crucial to my well-being, emotionally and physically. It was extremely challenging to get away—I’d have to work on finding a way every single day. But once I left the house, I would walk far down in the river bottoms to a spot where I could look back up at my house, looking so small on the edge of the bluff. I would lift up my hand and use my thumb to cover my home from my sight. “See, it isn’t so big and insurmountable. I can do this!”, I would remind myself.

Ah—the value of some solitude! Even a short 20 minute walk can make a world of difference in our perspective and our inner tranquility. I hope you can find time to take a walk.


May I recommend:

Too Tired!

Easy Exercise

Plan B: Difficult Pregnancy

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