Chapter 7 - The vital years

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The vital years


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  Two Swedish vestibular-stimulation experts, Mats and Irene Niklasson, have also achieved great results using techniques similar to Palmer. At their Vistabularis organization, they've found that slow spinning and slow movement is ideal for many children, particularly those diagnosed as having severe learning problems. Says Mats Niklasson: "Most learning problems, I found, relate to lack of balance and difficulty with the reflexes." Through spinning and other motor activities, the Niklassons "rewire the brain".13
   They also agree that effective learning starts from the moment of birth. Again, the main points are simple:

1. The vital importance of step-by-step movement
  Infants grow in a patterned way. They're born explorers. So encourage them to explore in a safe, environment.
  In New Zealand two Irish migrants, Jerome and Sophie Hartigan, have combined their talents to introduce a parent-involvement program based very much on children's natural physical development. Jerome is a former Olympic pentathlete, has a masters degree from Ithaca College, New York, and is a scientist and physical training specialist. Sophie is an accomplished music teacher. Their Jumping Beans child-development centers, now springing up around New Zealand, involve parents in regular one-hour sessions.
   Jerome Hartigan says "physical, motor learning" forms the basis for all learning, including reading, writing, arithmetic and music. "Without motor learning," he says," the brain simply will not develop."14 He says specific movement patterns "wire up" the whole brain.
  The Hartigans say it's important that physical routines should link in with the way the brain grows.
  Janet Doman, director of The Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential, in Philadelphia, agrees. And those routines should start from day one. "Give children the chance to crawl from as early an age as possible," she says. "Babies can actually crawl from birth, but generally they are restricted by so much clothing that they don't develop this ability till later." 15
  So long as children are warm, she says, parents should not limit their movements with too much clothing.
  "Very simply, the more they crawl the sooner they're going to creep, and the more they creep the more they'll be able to walk. And each of


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