Believe it or not, movements such as climbing, are essential to cognitive functioning. Movement integrates new information and experiences into children’s brains. Children not only build their brains when they are moving, but they build the muscles they need to sit in a chair and write. Allowing children time to engage in unstructured play is essential to their development. When a child is playing, they are producing endorphins (brain chemicals that make us happy). Thus, unstructured play develops your child’s muscles, sensory systems, and their brains, making it the foundation that complex learning is built on.
Here are a few activities that are full of therapeutic benefits
and easy to fit into your child’s day:
Swinging is not only relaxing, but it builds core strength and motor coordination. When your child spins in a swing they are
engaging different parts of the brain at the same time. These areas in the
brain are associated with learning skills such as spatial awareness,
rhythm, timing, balance, and muscle control.
Climbing. When children are climbing, they are
stretching their arms upwards, which enhances cardiovascular flow and
flexibility. Additionally, climbing
builds upper body strength and coordination
Running builds strength in the legs, endurance, and provides sensory
With screen time and school taking time away from unstructured play, children do not have as much time to engage in healthy movement activities. This is detrimental to their development and learning. It is important to try to spend at least an hour a day letting children engage in movement-based activities. If possible, give them time to engage in unstructured play, this allows them to seek out the movement their bodies need, which is a form of self-regulation.
At Mindful Child, we allow unstructured play in our aerial hammocks for at least 15 minutes of every aerial yoga class. Children are able to climb, spin, and swing in our hammocks, providing them the movement their bodies and brains need for healthy development.
You might think Instagram serves as simply a playground to waste time scrolling through pretty pictures, but did you know that there are some excellent educational accounts you can follow to get your daily dose of fun, plus learn some great factual knowledge?
Here are some of our favorite picks for wholesome, educational content related to children:
MeddyTeddy. Meddy Teddy is a mindful teddy bear who does yoga. This account posts uplifting quotes, yoga poses and mindfulness related content. It is super cute and kids love Meddy.
TheMovementMama. The MovementMama instagram account is run by Kailee, a pediatric physical therapist at Lee Ann Britain Development Center (they hire really good therapists). Kailee’s account empowers parents through play-based movement. This account focuses on infants and toddlers and provides great educational content to parents.
SesameStreet. Its mission is to help kids grow smarter, stronger, kinder – in more than 150 countries around the world! What more could a parent ask for?
EmilyPriceWellness. Emily is a yoga teacher and wellness professional. She posts a variety of wonderful content related to self-care and wellness. She emphasizes a healthy lifestyle through movement, food and all things health related.
Mindful Child Mindful Child Aerial Yoga also has an instagram account, we focus on movement, breath, and mindfulness for children. Our mission is to provide brain-based interventions that are fun for the whole family.
In summary, Instagram is more than just pretty pictures, hashtags, and videos. It has a variety of educational accounts for parents to follow to help with a home therapy program, brain breaks, or family time. Best of all it is free.
You have the power to change your brain – one thought at a time!
Did you know you have the power to change your brain? You, not doctors, have the power to change
your thoughts. There are a lot of things
you can’t control in your life, BUT you can control your thoughts. Even though this sounds simple, sometimes it
is hard to change your mindset. Your brain is a muscle and just like the
muscles in your arms your brain needs to work out to grow strong, healthy, and
happy. Luckily there are lots of mood-changing
workouts for your brain.
Here are four mood-changing workouts for your brain:
Take Deep Breaths
Take 10 deep breaths. Find a peaceful place in your home or yard and practice taking ten deep slow breaths. Practice breathing throughout the day when you are happy and calm. Breathe all the way down to your belly to help your brain feel calm.
Go for a Walk
Walk out your stress and worries. Just 10 minutes of movement, in nature, can change how you feel. Relaxed movement reduces stress-hormone production, resulting in a happier, healthier you.
Have an “Attitude of Gratitude”
Have an “Attitude of Gratitude.” Gratitude shifts your mood and helps you to realize how much you have to be thankful for. Beginning your day with a short gratitude list is a powerful way to promote positive thinking and an overall sense of well-being.
Meditate Your Way to Happiness
Do a short meditation. Meditation actually changes your brain. When you meditate your brain makes the brain chemicals that help you feel happy and relaxed. Science tells us that the more you meditate the more brain chemicals your brain makes. Try making meditation a daily habit, even if it is only for a few minutes every day.
Focus on the Now
Neuroscience demonstrates you can actually grow happy centers in your brain by feeding them happy thoughts. When you are feeling overwhelmed or stressed, notice the feeling and then do one of the brain workouts above to change it. You can’t change unpleasant things from the past, but you can choose to change the present by focusing on the good in the here and now. Want to learn more about how movement, mindfulness, and breathing can change how you feel? Sign up for our online aerial yoga and mindfulness classes. If you are in the Kansas City area, hang out with us for 12-weeks this summer in our aerial yoga classes and camps.
The basis of educational theory describes intelligence, creativity, and learning being housed in the brain. However, this theory missed an important aspect of learning. Learning does not all occur in the brain, it occurs in the whole body. Movements, emotions and sensations are grounded in the body. It is our body’s senses that provide the brain with environmental information to give us a better understanding of our environment. Movement facilitates enhanced cognitive processing and grows the neural networks in the brain. This means movement enhances brain functioning.
Cross-lateral movement is crucial for learning. Cross lateral movements are those in which arms and legs cross over the midline (imaginary line that divides the body into right and left sides) of the body. The left side of the brain controls the right side of the body, and the right side of the brain controls the left side. When arms and legs cross the body’s midline, the two sides have to communicate. This integration of both sides of the brain facilitates learning
These are some of my favorite cross-lateral moves that I incorporate into my yoga classes.
Children’s Version. Start in mountain pose. Extend your right arm out and cross it over the left grabbing opposite shoulders. Shift your weight to your right foot and bring your left leg over your right.
Teen Version. Start in mountain pose. Take the left leg back to form a mini lunge. Extend out your arms. Take the left arm underneath the right arm and and bring palms together. Bring the left leg forward and wrap it around the right leg. Take in a deep inhale as you raise your arms to shoulder height. On the exhale sink the hips back as if sitting in a one legged chair.
Start in Mountain Pose. Alternate lifting and an arm and the opposite knee. Pretend you are climbing a ladder or hiking through the jungle.
Lie on your back. Lift up the arms and legs. Let them flow back and forth in big “x’s”. A fun variation is to start is lotus pose and pretend a bug lands on your lotus flower. Roll onto your back and begin flowing the arms and legs.
Figure eights can be drawn in the air with glow sticks. Begin in mountain pose. Lift the right arm and make ten sideways 8’s also known as the infinity sign. Shift the glow stick to the left hand. Raise the left arm and make ten sideways 8’s. Finally, lift both arms and grasp the glow stick with both hands making sideways 8’s. Another fun variation is to use a dry erase board and make butterfly wings. After you’ve made 10, with the right, 10 with the left, and 10 with both hands fill in the rest of the butterfly.
Try these fun moves at home and watch your child soar to new academic heights!
Teaching fun, therapeutic, aerial yoga and mindfulness to children