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From Tumbling to Academic Success

Tumbling to Academic Success

By Debra Em Wilson, M.A., Reading Specialist

The more a child tumbles, climbs, creeps, and crawls, the more densely wired the brain becomes for academic success. Movement is the architect of a child’s brain. The two hemispheres of the brain are designed to constantly communicate with one another. The left side of the brain controls the right side of the body, and vice versa. Bilateral activities, common to all gymnastic programs, require both sides of the body to work together and separately.

Coordinated movement patterns create efficiency in the brain. Efficient pathways create fluent readers who complete reading tasks easier. For example, during reading, the left hemisphere attends to letters and sequence of words, while the right side of the brain focuses on comprehending what is read. Reading fluency depends on an intimate conversation between the two hemispheres of the brain creating a clear signal.

Bouncing on the trampoline, tumbling down a mat, swinging from the bars – all these activities help with the brain and integrate the vestibular system. Located in the inner ear, the vestibular system is intricately connected with the brain. Its job is to make sense of all perceived sensory information from the environment and tell us where our bodies are in space. Like the hub of a wheel, the vestibular system integrates vision, hearing, balance, and skin sensations. If children have poor sensory processing skills, they may have a difficult time learning gymnastics skills or regulating behavior. Weaknesses observed in gymnastics classes may lead to discovering that the child might struggle in school as well.

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