Learning in Motion: How Movement Helps Brains Grow

Learning in Motion: How Movement Helps Brains Grow

It’s March and the weather is turning warmer. We have been seeing the sun more. As Spring gets closer and closer, we start to think about being outside more. And being outside means more chances to move.

We all know that movement is good for the body. But did you know that movement is also good for the mind? Movement can lead to better learning!

Physical movement can help the brain in a few ways. First, it increases the amount of oxygen going to the brain. Second, it can cause changes in neurotransmitters (the chemicals that carry messages in the brain and help make new learning pathways). And finally, movement can help build structures in the brain.

Studies have also shown that movement can help improve children’s social skills. When students move during lessons, they may learn more vocabulary words and have higher academic achievement.

One study looked at kids’ brains while they were thinking and paying attention. Children who were more physically fit showed different patterns of blood flow in their brains than kids who were less fit. The patterns of blood flow in the fit children were associated with better academic performance.

So how can you use this research to help your children be better learners? Here ae a few tips:

  • Move with your children. Go outside and play kickball. Run. Jump rope. Get your children’s blood flowing faster and get more oxygen to their brains.
  • Try movement that lets children practice balance. Some research suggests that there are connections between the inner ear (which helps in balance) and brain stimulation that lead to better attention.
  • Read books together that feature movement, dancing or singing. Then get up and move with your child. This can help children remember new vocabulary words and the narrative of the stories.

When you move with your child, you can stimulate brain growth for your child. Movement also helps adult brains and bodies. So get outside in that warmer weather and do something healthy for both of you!

Image: Copyright Tatyana Chernyak | Dreamstime.com | Jumping children reaching something together



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Katherine Pears
Dr. Katherine Pears is a senior scientist at Oregon Social Learning Center (OSLC). She earned her Ph.D in clinical psychology and has worked with OSLC since 1998. Katherine is the principal investigator and co-developer of the Kids In Transition to Schools (KITS) program. Currently, she oversees all the clinical and research activities for KITS. When she’s not in her office, you’ll find Katherine in the kitchen whipping up her latest creation or outdoors hiking a scenic trail.


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