Author: Rhonda Riley, Principal, Throckmorton Collegiate ISD
I am writing today to talk about a new program that we are starting at TCISD that we are very excited about. My hope is that we will help our students and also spread the understanding of how the body and mind must both be cultivated in our youngsters!
I began looking into the Ready Bodies, Ready Minds program when Dr. Cline and I were brainstorming about our afternoon specials classes this past year and she asked me if I had ever heard of RBRM. She recommended I look into it as she had seen good results in classroom learning and test scores in one of her previous districts. I was able to attend a two day workshop at Region 14 this past month and I found it so very interesting. Athena Oden, P.T, author of the RBRM workshop and curriculum did the presentation face to face. Oden teaches that experiencing the world through our senses is directly tied to cognitive development which hinges on the development of the motor, visual, tactile, proprioceptive, vestibular, and auditory systems.
Oden discussed the fact that society has changed the way children play over the last few decades. These changes have occured in as young as newborns up to older children. An example of this would be the practice of putting babies in “containers” that initially were invented to keep them safe, but in doing so have also prevented them from using all their senses to experience their world. We learned the term “Container Baby Syndrome” is actually used by pediatricians and is a widespread condition. Google it if you are skeptical, it was unbelievable the amount of information I found! Lack of “tummy time” for some children has caused lack of core strength and postural control. Core and postural control is also heavily related to oral motor development, which I had never thought about. However, if you think about the neck extension, and muscles used by a baby during nursing you can definitely make the connection. Remember also that Americans tend to push to wean our babies off the breast, bottle, and pacifier as soon as possible most of the time. For older children, the increase in screen time has replaced activities that would continue to develop the body systems such as bike riding, rolling down grassy hills, chasing fireflies barefoot on the lawn, or climbing into a treehouse.
Now think of those same children starting school and being behind on development in the mentioned areas. Do you see how asking them to sit up in a chair to do school work could be problematic? If sitting in a chair is hard then you can certainly see how a lack of endurance in extremities and the trunk needed for handwriting will just compound the student’s problems. That’s where the RBRM lab comes in. Students will attend the lab four days a week and rotate from station to station. An example of a station would be the “Superman” and just as the name suggests, students lie on their tummies and stretch their arms and head up while raising feet and knees off the ground. Try it for 20 seconds, three times, if you are up for a challenge. You will definitely feel it in your muscles and will understand why it is prescribed to develop core stability and motor control. The “Cocoon Crawl” requires students to crawl through a tunnel made of fabric for tactile stimulation and increase upper arm and shoulder strength. The kids are going to have a lot of activities such as these that will keep them engaged and getting stronger everyday. I also can really see the labs building confidence in the students and they feel themselves getting stronger and in more control of their bodies. I think it is important to mention that the lab does not replace PE class or recess but works with them to continue to foster development.
As we implement the program, I am so excited to see what kind of results we will be getting. I am learning a lot through my study of these development theories and I feel confident that this time next year I can report back to you with good news on how this program has benefited our students. Everyone keep learning, growing and stepping out of those comfort zones, I wish you all a great start to the 21-22 school year! Take care.