I get asked this question a lot. It makes me think about our name: S’cool Moves. While I love our name, I think sometimes that it may not adequately represent the depth of academic research and theory we cover in our workshops.
Rewind to 1999.
As a reading specialist, with an undergraduate dance degree, I observed my struggling readers and couldn’t get past their awkward pencil grips, poor writing posture, avoidance of midline, clumsiness, and poor ability to perform the simplest of vision skills like track across a page of text.
While doing research online, I found a screening tool called the Integrated Motor Activities Screening (IMAS) by Margot Heiniger-White, an occupational therapist. When we screened our first grade students using the IMAS, we found that 90% of students who scored “refer to an occupational therapist” were also the students in our reading intervention group.
This data propelled me to connect with Margot to figure out how we could provide intervention for our struggling readers while also working on reading. I knew that foundation work alone doesn’t miraculously create readers and that all struggling readers need to be in a reading program tailored to their specific needs. Like a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, a way to blend these important ingredients was needed. S’cool Moves was created to provide a way to bridge the gap.
Fast forward to today.
I have just completed my dissertation focusing on school collaboration between occupational therapists and general education teachers in the classroom setting. Every therapist and teacher interviewed stated in one form or another that today’s academically focused classrooms are developmentally inappropriate for many students, especially younger students. We can teach academics without shoring up weak foundation skills but it takes much more effort from parents, teachers, and children. The need for successful collaboration continues to drive the S’cool Moves mission.
So how do I answer the question, “Is this workshop about academics or just about movement?” As Albert Einstein wisely stated:
“Nothing happens until something moves.”
Therapists are excited to bring our Focus Moves activities into the classroom environment and teachers report feeling relieved that they are able to take breaks throughout the day and work on essential foundation skills that make learning easier for children.
Our Focus Moves posters, designed from clinical therapy interventions, are available in an Ebook format that can be downloaded onto tablets for individual use or computers for classroom smartboard use. You can find it HERE.
For those of you who have followed my daughter’s story, you’ll recall that she was not supposed to walk, talk, or function in a meaningful way. The only way to get her brain to function was to create an external environment that forced her brain to create essential connections. Without movement, nothing happened. If you want to change the brain, change the body.
Or as John G. Ratey, MD, associate clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School says:
"Exercise is Miracle Grow for the Brain."
TEACHERS FEAR NOT
"But now they're all full of energy! How am I going to get them calmed down and ready to work?"
Minute Moves Calming Routine uses sensory processing techniques to calm students so they can direct all that great brain energy into focused academics.