It’s the “New Year’s Resolution – I’m Gonna Get in Shape” time of year. So maybe you’ve started taking an exercise class. Have you ever noticed many workout classes take not only muscle power but brainpower as well, to coordinate all the simultaneous movements?
Arms opening and closing, twisting hand weights towards the center and then out to the side, while sitting and tightening the abs and alternately flexing and pointing the feet. Yikes!
What I’ve noticed is if I’m on the beat, everything seems to flow and work, but if I can’t quite coordinate the rhythm, it all falls apart. I feel confused, lost, and a little overwhelmed. I try to get the feet going right but then lose track of what the arms were supposed to be doing. I start looking at the clock wondering how much longer the class is. I may stop and give up on that part or realize the instructor has gone on to something else and now I’m behind.
Sound familiar? Struggling students experience these feelings every day.
Timing is at the most basic foundation of nearly everything we do. When timing is intrinsic and automatic, everything flows and functions better. Anything that entails coordination requires a sense of timing and rhythm – in other words, just about everything:
• Getting out of bed in the morning
• Brushing your teeth
• Walking, running, playing, and sports
• Speaking with intonation and expression
• Turn-taking and dialogue
• Processing speech sounds for phonetic decoding and reading
• Reading fluency
• “Seeing” letters, words, and sentences properly on the page
• Planning and scheduling
• “Getting” and responding to information quickly enough
• Understanding what you hear and read
• Retrieving the words you want to say and putting them together quickly
• Regulating your breath, attention, and behavior
The list goes on and on.
In our work involving students with learning and attention challenges, we’re finding that improving timing and rhythm:
• Improves attention, coordination, and overall mental alertness for learning
• Reduces anxiety and improves behavior
• Increases speech, language, and verbal flow and expression
Neuroscience and Timing
According to Advanced Brain Technologies, “Neuroscience has proven through functional brain imaging that music engages more brain areas than anything else, and rhythm is the most important and fundamental aspect of music. Your brain health and body-brain connection depend on rhythm.”
Timing is one of many underlying skills that supports efficient learning. When smart kids struggle in school, it’s almost always due to underlying processing/learning skills that are weak, inefficient, or not supporting them well enough.
Another great thing neuroscience has shown us is these skills can be developed. Most learning and attention problems don’t have to be permanent!
At our center, we identify and develop weak underlying processing/learning skills that provide the critical foundation for learning. While there’s no overnight solution, most learning and attention challenges can be dramatically improved or completely corrected.
Jill Stowell, M.S., is the #1 bestselling author of At Wit’s End: A Parent’s Guide to Ending the Struggle, Tears and Turmoil of Learning Disabilities. Learn more at www.LearningDisability.com.