by Stephanie Johnson MA, R-DMT, LPC
There are an increasing number of very bright children unable to perform their best at school. A bright child who does not perform at grade level or has a hard time focusing is often thought of as needing to try harder. Many parents struggle with how to support a smart child who is perceived as not “working up to their ability.”
There are a series of underlying body mechanics that need to be in place before a child can absorb curriculum and demonstrate grade level proficiency. For example, the ability to keep the legs stable in a chair so that the upper body can work, write and express should be automatic. When a child’s body does not do this automatically, precious brain space is used for the physicality of sitting and working thus, robbing resources needed for academic pursuits. When the higher order thinking part of the brain has two jobs to perform it cannot produce high quality work, causing smart children appear as though they are not working hard.
For some children this type of over-working the thinking brain can lead to cognitive fatigue causing a surplus of adrenaline to be released just so the body can keep up with the tasks at hand. Adrenaline is a very powerful chemical needed to run from a big bear, it is not optimal for children to be using it daily just to get through the school day. Think about how you feel after drinking too much coffee, how about after a few days of drinking too much, or a few months! The extra adrenaline in a child’s system can easily cause symptoms of attention challenges. These are just two examples of what can occur to a learner whose body is not supporting the learning process, but rather getting in the way.
What would cause a child’s upper and lower body to not work harmoniously while doing desk work? The body mechanics needed for lifelong cognition, emotional intelligence and perception are developed during the first 15 months of life as an infant is learning to lift the head, roll over, sit, crawl and creep. For many of our children there is not ample time to fully complete all these movements because, as a culture, we are moving away from having babies on the floor where these body mechanics are developed.
Developmental Movement Therapy (DMT) offers children the opportunity to revisit early motor patterns that were not completed as an infant in a fun and supportive environment. DMT has helped many students find ease and comfort in learning without engaging in endless hours of remedial work and/or tutoring. Parents feel so relieved to learn that there is an effective, non-invasive course to supporting their bright child.
Find out how Developmental Movement Therapy can work for your child. For a limited time, save $60 on a two-visit intake and assessment at Sage Education Center. Click here to learn more!
Stephanie Johnson MA, DTR, LPC is a licensed teacher, Registered Dance Therapist, Licensed Professional Counselor and mother who brings a unique perspective to education and child development. Recognizing the body’s role in optimal learning, Ms. Johnson has integrated her experience in the classroom with training in a variety of developmental movement therapies to offer effective treatment plans for children who struggle to perform their best at school. Stephanie offers a deep understanding of how a child’s early physical development influences achievement at school both socially and academically. Ms. Johnson is committed to assessing the origin of symptoms rather than employing a series of coping strategies that overlook the root of the problem. In addition to her therapeutic work with children, Stephanie offers workshops and trainings for parents and educators and is the author of Bring Your Body to Class: A School Wide Model for Celebrating the Body’s Role in Learning. Stephanie is the director of Sage Education and Therapy in SW Minneapolis. Connect with Sage Education and Therapy on Facebook.