SchoolFamily Voices

Connie McCarthy is passionate about her work as a teacher of young children. She has devoted her entire career to making sure that her students do well at school, right from the start. Connie has an undergraduate degree in Elementary Education, and a Master’s Degree in Special Education. She has been teaching first grade in East Providence, R.I. for 23 years, where she received the distinction of “Highly Qualified Teacher” by the Rhode Island State Board of Regents. Connie also taught nursery school for four years, and published numerous articles on early education in East Bay Newspapers in Bristol, R.I. She’s also been published in PTO Today Magazine. She lives with her husband, Brian, and has a daughter and a son, both young adults. Connie enjoys reading, writing about elementary education, and taking long walks with friends. During summer vacations, she likes to travel with her husband. She also loves reading readers’ comments on her weekly blog posts.

Try “Brain Gym” to Enhance Learning

Yoga boyWe can all benefit from a stronger mind/body connection. This is particularly true for young learners.

A few years ago I learned a simple program from the occupational therapists in our school. It is called "Brain Gym" and consists of four simple exercises and movements that improve coordination, concentration and focus.

Every morning, in my first grade class, we start our day with "Brain Gym." The series of exercises takes only about five minutes to complete, and over the years I’ve found that it is very effective in helping young children get ready to learn.

The four steps we do each morning are:

  • Get a drink of water
  • "Brain Buttons"
  • "Cross Crawl"
  • "Hook-Ups"

I follow this with three Yoga breaths and ten jumping jacks. It’s a great way to get ready to learn!

About.com gives a great overview of these steps, and how you could implement "Brain Gym" at home. Or, you can Google "brain gym" and see instructional YouTube videos.

"Brain Gym" is a registered trademark of "Brain Gym International" and the copyrighted work of Paul E. Dennison, Ph.D., and Gail E. Dennison

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#1 Beth P. 2011-04-10 14:25
About a year ago I observed in your classroom and today I picked up your card with this website on it. When I observed I had not had many education classes but "Brain Gym" really stuck out in my mind from what I seen elsewhere. After taking Physical Education in Elementary Schools I can see how valuable integrating physical activity in the classroom is and this is such a great way to start it. Thanks for letting me know also where it comes from! :-)

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