Brain Gym® / MBL Connection

The movements and activities that Movement Based Learning, Inc. incorporate in the learning of the child or elder are based on natural, normal human development. They bring about rapid and often dramatic improvements in focus, comprehension, communication, organization and physical movement. The Brain Gym International Foundation developed a unique program of physical activities that synchronizes body and mind to enhance learning and achievement for people of all ages and abilities. The activities and methods of Brain Gym are safe, easy and enjoyable. Cecilia Koester developed a course for Brain Gym International called Brain Gym for Special Needs Providers. Therapists, teachers, tutors, elder caregivers and parents as well as anyone in the caring professions will benefit from learning how to assess the needs of an individual, develop a Brain Gym or Movement Based Learning program to meet those needs, and evaluate the effectiveness of the program with ways to modify when necessary for best results.

What is Brain Gym®

Brain Gym is a system that uses simple movements to stimulate brain function. That is, it uses quick, easy-to-do developmental movements to wake up the brain without stress or injury. Children naturally explore these movements as they grow and mature. However, under tension, children learn to rely too much on one cerebral hemisphere of the brain alone, instead of two sides together, placing unnecessary and stressful demands upon the whole physiology. Educator Paul E. Dennison, Ph.D., a pioneer in the field of learning through movement and the creator of the Brain Gym program calls this the “switched off” state.

How Cecilia Koester Uses Brain Gym®

Children who have special needs “switch off” more frequently than the average child. Perhaps the stress from neurological damage or simply a more sensitive nervous system creates a need for movements, such as Brain Gym, as well as skills of coordination. The intention behind the Brain Gym is to stimulate the brain so that the child has equal access to all dimensions of the brain. The Brain Gym activities address three specific dimensions of physical movement that correlate with three areas of the brain. Each dimension is described by a key word or function and by viewing postural and behavioral correlates. This means that by observing the child’s behavior or how he/she holds his/her body in space, we are lead to the appropriate Brain Gym movements and activities. Other information that would lead to knowledge about which Brain Gym movements or which activities to choose can be gathered by observing or noticing neurological soft signs. These can be eye or head movements, hand or foot movements. Also, if the child is able to move his/her shoulders and simultaneously move the hips, or, if the child can move in a contralateral way, though uses only one side of the body at a time, then we are able to gather information about the neurological system. They are called “soft signs” because there is no hard evidence from an EEG or a CAT scan; rather we are relying on the cues from the body to surmise how the neurological system is responding. The three dimensions and corresponding information are as follows:

Dimension Key Word Brain Gym Movements
Focus Comprehension Lengthening Activities
Centering Organization Energy Exercises
Laterality Communication Midline Movements
An example of a Brain Gym movement from the Energy Exercises is called the “thinking cap.” Prior to doing it, however, I invite you (right now) to turn your head to the left and see how far you can look and notice if there is any tension in your neck. Now turn your head to the right and notice how far you can look and notice if there’s any tension in your neck. Massage your ears by unrolling the fold of them by beginning at the top and going all the way to the bottom. Do this three times. (In Brain Gym, we call this the “thinking cap.”) Now, turn your head to the left and notice how far you can look and if there is any tension in your neck; and repeat with your head towards the right. Most of you (98%) will notice a very positive difference in your ability to turn your head. You’ve just relaxed your mind/body system so that you are better able to organize yourself as witnessed by your body’s ability to subconsciously organize itself so that turning your head is easier. This is how simple, yet profound, the Brain Gym movements are. As we experience this gentle, non-invasive techniques for stimulating the brain, imagine how the child might feel.
If you were to do some Lengthening Activities with your child, the brain will respond and he/she will become more able to focus. For example, in Brain Gym we have a movement called the “calf pump.” It is similar to the “runners’ stretch.” Extend your right leg behind you and as the heel is touching the floor, hold it down for approximately 8 seconds and release. Repeat 7-8 times and then repeat with the other leg. This should take about one minute on each leg. This movement stimulates the brain by using the body and subsequently the neurological flow increases and we are able to comprehend our task with greater ease.
To improve communication between one side of the body and the other (or one person and another), we can do a Midline Movement. For example, we can do a cross crawl. This movement is done standing, sitting or lying down by taking your left arm and crossing over the midline of your body to touch your right knee, and vice versa. Do this for approximately one minute, as slowly as possible, because the more slowly we go, the more the brain is able to absorb or use the information. When we do this movement, the hemispheres of the brain are activated and we are better able to communicate. After doing these movements and activities, the brain is stimulated and the rest of the body is more relaxed. Through this preparatory experience, we are then able to engage in the learning that is at hand. For example, if we would like our child to eat with a spoon, drink from a cup, reduce seizure activity, learn to walk, ride a bike or read with greater ease, we might do two or three minutes of Brain Gym designed to stimulate related areas of the brain, and then move into the learning that we intend to accomplish. The Brain Gym activities are best spread out during the day, just as we divide our meals throughout the day. Brain Gym is not a cure-all; it is however a very powerful tool to have as a methods/techniques intervention.
I have seen miraculous improvement in both children and adults who have used Brain Gym. In fact, three children with whom I’ve worked have gone from blindness to sight. One child began to walk independently at age five and, now seven and a half years old, has never returned to his wheelchair. A nine year old boy diagnosed as autistic, who previously used two words to express himself, began using functional speech after just three months of using Brain Gym. One five-year-old boy who was having intense and frequent seizures (about three times a week) decreased his seizure activity to twice a month, and the intensity was also significantly diminished.

A more in-depth understanding of how to use movement-based learning and/or Brain Gym® for Special Needs can be learned by:

  • Attending a 3 or 4 day workshop taught by Cecilia Koester
  • Attending a teacher-in-service taught by Cecilia Koester
  • Scheduling a private consultation with Cecilia Koester
  • Scheduling a phone consult with Cecilia Koester
  • Scheduling a video consult with Cecilia Koester




Testimonials

“This course is a learning by doing experience. The atmosphere was open and safe––conducive to learning. Movement-based learning uses movement of the body to effect changes in the brain. It is a tool that once learned, is easy to integrate into your work as a Physical Therapist (PT) as well as your home life. It is a great adjunct to all other tools that we use as a PT.”

Kristen, Physical Therapist

2018-01-25T15:15:19+00:00

Kristen, Physical Therapist

“This course is a learning by doing experience. The atmosphere was open and safe––conducive to learning. Movement-based learning uses movement of the body to effect changes in the brain. It is a tool that once learned, is easy to integrate into your work as a Physical Therapist (PT) as well as your home life. It is a great adjunct to all other tools that we use as a PT.”
“Behind a giving hand is a warm and gracious heart. You are one of the most amazing women that I have ever met. You bring so much into many, many lives. You have a remarkable gift! Not only are you helping my son see his true potential but you have helped me as a parent in so many ways. Thanks you for sharing with us. We are blessed to have you in our lives. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!”

MP, Parent

2018-01-26T22:00:24+00:00

MP, Parent

“Behind a giving hand is a warm and gracious heart. You are one of the most amazing women that I have ever met. You bring so much into many, many lives. You have a remarkable gift! Not only are you helping my son see his true potential but you have helped me as a parent in so many ways. Thanks you for sharing with us. We are blessed to have you in our lives. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!”
“My awareness of others and the ‘space’ in which they grow has been keenly awakened. I loved your [Cece] teaching style. Even though there were close to twenty of us ladies in the room, I felt that you were speaking only with me! What a gift God has given you!”

Pam, Paraprofessional

2018-01-25T15:16:31+00:00

Pam, Paraprofessional

“My awareness of others and the ‘space’ in which they grow has been keenly awakened. I loved your [Cece] teaching style. Even though there were close to twenty of us ladies in the room, I felt that you were speaking only with me! What a gift God has given you!”
“Cece teaches movements that energize learning. She introduces Bal-a-vis-x and demonstrates how to apply the theory of movement-based learning by bringing children into the workshop so we can observe her using it with them. The information and techniques are definitely applicable to Occupational Therapy (OT) and compliments and parallels our practices.”

Julie, Occupational Therapist

2018-01-25T15:17:22+00:00

Julie, Occupational Therapist

“Cece teaches movements that energize learning. She introduces Bal-a-vis-x and demonstrates how to apply the theory of movement-based learning by bringing children into the workshop so we can observe her using it with them. The information and techniques are definitely applicable to Occupational Therapy (OT) and compliments and parallels our practices.”
“The course that Cece shares far exceeded my expectations and objectives. I chose this course for specific reasons, and gained so much more! Every component of the class was selected and timed and the living structure that we can then pass along is invaluable. Cece, there is no doubt that you will always continue to grow and learn and then share. Your teaching and coaching style is exceptional as you reach our inner beings and potential. I loved being the receiver of such wisdom, Thank you so very much!”

Kathleen, Speech/Language Pathologist

2018-01-25T15:18:58+00:00

Kathleen, Speech/Language Pathologist

“The course that Cece shares far exceeded my expectations and objectives. I chose this course for specific reasons, and gained so much more! Every component of the class was selected and timed and the living structure that we can then pass along is invaluable. Cece, there is no doubt that you will always continue to grow and learn and then share. Your teaching and coaching style is exceptional as you reach our inner beings and potential. I loved being the receiver of such wisdom, Thank you so very much!”
“Cece has an ability to work a room with purpose. As I watched her and participated in this class I learned not only the activities from Brain Gym® and how/when to use them––I also became calmer within myself. Thank you Cece, from the bottom of my heart, for pausing long enough to touch, accept and teach my son.”

Opal, Parent of Child with Special Needs

2018-01-25T15:20:17+00:00

Opal, Parent of Child with Special Needs

“Cece has an ability to work a room with purpose. As I watched her and participated in this class I learned not only the activities from Brain Gym® and how/when to use them––I also became calmer within myself. Thank you Cece, from the bottom of my heart, for pausing long enough to touch, accept and teach my son.”
“All we really want as a parent is to be able to make a difference in a little one’s life. You do that so gracefully, Cece.”

Michelle, Parent of Child who has Cerebral Palsy

2018-01-25T15:22:46+00:00

Michelle, Parent of Child who has Cerebral Palsy

“All we really want as a parent is to be able to make a difference in a little one’s life. You do that so gracefully, Cece.”
“This course offers the most vital information and tools for living in our own body with comfort and ease of learning and functioning. I noticed so many positive changes in myself during this course that I know will bleed over into my professional (and personal) life. I am more relaxed; able to formulate and receive information; more playful; and I’m feeling more equipped to work with special needs children.”

Emily, Educational Consultant/Brain Gym® Instructor

2018-01-25T15:23:38+00:00

Emily, Educational Consultant/Brain Gym® Instructor

“This course offers the most vital information and tools for living in our own body with comfort and ease of learning and functioning. I noticed so many positive changes in myself during this course that I know will bleed over into my professional (and personal) life. I am more relaxed; able to formulate and receive information; more playful; and I’m feeling more equipped to work with special needs children.”
“Cece is kind, well-qualified and demonstrated the value of her message, i.e. as we are more grounded and centered in ourselves we are then able to reach out to others and participate and assist in their learning. I’ve learned many new skills/strategies and developed confidence in my own instincts. This class is very versatile for all my ages/abilities—-even for self-improvement—-everyone can benefit."

Denise, Early Intervention Specialist

2018-01-25T15:24:31+00:00

Denise, Early Intervention Specialist

“Cece is kind, well-qualified and demonstrated the value of her message, i.e. as we are more grounded and centered in ourselves we are then able to reach out to others and participate and assist in their learning. I’ve learned many new skills/strategies and developed confidence in my own instincts. This class is very versatile for all my ages/abilities—-even for self-improvement—-everyone can benefit."
“After taking this course, my eyes are open wider and I can assist the children and explore their potential/ possibilities so they can reach their greatest reality. This course gently invites you to enhance learning and function within the classroom by using natural body movements. This course was Cece’s book, I Am the Child coming alive…and so much more. I am so eager to absorb all the new material from her new book, Movement Based Learning for Children of All Abilities”

Candi, Adaptive PE Teacher

2018-01-26T21:45:06+00:00

Candi, Adaptive PE Teacher

“After taking this course, my eyes are open wider and I can assist the children and explore their potential/ possibilities so they can reach their greatest reality. This course gently invites you to enhance learning and function within the classroom by using natural body movements. This course was Cece’s book, I Am the Child coming alive…and so much more. I am so eager to absorb all the new material from her new book, Movement Based Learning for Children of All Abilities”