Though classroom and homework seem worlds away, your child’s brain still needs stimulation during the summer months. I recommend three easy and effective BrainGym exercises that not only stimulate your child’s brain but also offer other benefits such as preventing car sickness, reducing anxiety, and increasing balance, focus and attention. And best of all, you and your child can do them at home without fancy equipment or a lot of space.
The exercises may be used to supplement occupational therapy or tried on their own. You can either begin by doing the exercises on your child while he is lying or sitting so he can feel how they should be done , or you can do the exercise and have your child copy you.
The Cross Crawl
This simple BrainGym exercise uses repetitive movements that cross the midline. When a child is able to move an arm, hand, foot or leg across the midline, to the other side, he is “crossing the midline.” This helps integrate the right and left hemispheres of the brain. Hemispheric integration has a calming effect, helps to clear the mind, and aids in better reading and auditory comprehension. This exercise also helps with spelling, writing, and listening.
You can do the Cross Crawl either standing or sitting. Place your right hand on your left knee as you raise your left knee. Bring the knee down. Then, place your left hand on your right knee as you raise the right knee. Bring the knee down. Repeat this motion for about thirty seconds to one minute, varying the speed if desired. The slower you go, the more relaxing it is for the body and brain.
This popular BrainGym exercise increases blood flow to the brain, allowing for greater focus and attention.
Hold your left hand in an “L”, with wide space between your thumb and index finger. Place your thumb and index fingers in the indentations slightly below the collar bone and press down, pulsing lightly. At the same time, place your right hand on your navel and press gently. Do this for at least twenty seconds then switch sides.
Watch the first forty seconds of this video to see how to do Brain Buttons.
Hook Ups is another popular BrainGym exercise that has a calming effect and can help reduce anxiety. It is a great way to calm down after a long day.
While standing up, cross one foot over the other foot, and one hand over the other hand, and interlace your fingers with the thumbs up. Bring up your arms to chest level (it will kind of look like a knot). Breathe through your nose deeply and hold in that position for at least thirty seconds or as long as comfortable.
BrainGym is a program which uses simple exercise and movement patterns that have a tremendous impact on attention and learning. All of the above BrainGym exercises are ones I use frequently with OT Thrive clients. I even use them myself between sessions to help me feel more grounded and mindful.
OT Thrive clients who have ADD/ADHD, autism spectrum disorders, learning disabilities and more have benefited from the use of BrainGym exercises. To find out if your child may benefit from occupational therapy at OT Thrive or if you have any questions, contact me at Miriam at otthrive.com.