September Blog - Sit, but not still

September Blog - Sit, but not still

Sit, but not still

When kids come into my office for speech and language therapy, they are here to create new neural connections.  Some are learning how to say “sssss,” some are learning new words, and some are learning new ways to express their ideas.  No matter what aspect of communication is being learned, neurons are connecting throughout the brain.

One way to get brains ready to create new connections is through movement.  Current research is uncovering the importance of moving the body in order to think, learn, and remember.

Kids who are moving have brains that are producing more of the chemicals that help neurons generate and connect. 

Sometimes active exercise, like climbing on the jungle gym and jumping on the trampoline, meshes well with learning new speech and language.  But not always.  Often, when kids participate in speech and language therapy, they need to concentrate on small details.  They concentrate on moving the small muscles in their mouths in new ways.  They concentrate on listening to subtle differences between sounds. They concentrate on using and understanding new words and grammar constructions. 

For the times when it doesn’t work to take speech therapy to the jungle gym, I have worked on making my office an inviting place to move – making it a place where moving happens incidentally.  Instead of the traditional office set-up, there is currently one chair and three backless stools of various heights, one of which spins around.  There are colorful stepping-stones that can be arranged and rearranged, and a strong plastic shell called a Bilibo that can be scooted every which way.  The table can be raised and lowered, and is typically low to the ground. This makes the floor a popular spot to sit.  With all of the variety available, we stay active while therapy takes place.

Most kids spend the majority of their day in chairs: sitting in the car, in class, in the cafeteria, doing homework, eating dinner, playing games, or watching TV.  While it may seem like a small modification to go from sitting in chair-position to sitting on stools and the floor, there is actually a big difference.  I welcome the kids who come to my office to try out multiple places to sit, each with its own unique position.  That’s a lot of squats, lunges, lifts, and twists as they move from spot to spot, rearrange furniture, and participate in creating their own learning environment.  The kids change spots and shift positions throughout the session, so they are sitting actively, and each movement they make primes their brains for learning.

This way we combine frequent movement with careful concentration – and get the best of both worlds.

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