What is Developmental Movement and Why Does My Child Need It?

Children first learn through the senses and movement of the body. A baby’s reflexes are small movements that help the brain learn; connecting experiences (sensing or touching) with action (movement) which is the beginning of the brain/body connection, or neural pathways and reflex connections.

These early reflexes organize the brain for vision and hearing, as well as for learning, attention and emotional balance. Clusters of reflexes generate developmental movements that help to build and organize neurological connections for the brain. Immature reflexes affect sensory inputs, body awareness, focus and learning.

While these reflexes tend to progress naturally, children can also get stuck in a particular pattern and not progress to fully integrating sensory experiences and not using higher levels of their brain capacity. The good news is that the brain responds quickly to movements (i.e., jumping, balancing, crossing the midline, posture and coordination activities, gross and fine motor skills) that naturally support a child’s sensory processing or brain/body connection.

Research has shown that children who have immature reflexes have a higher incidence of specific learning difficulties compared to children with mature reflexes; and that using developmental movement to support the appropriate reflexes toward maturation, correlates to improvements in reading and writing.

Caulbridge School understands that movement = learning. One of our Three Foundational Principles is that Learning is Physiological and Begins in the Body. More than simple exercise, developmental movement helps calm the nervous system, balance emotions and organize the sensory inputs that build a healthy brain/body connection. This strong foundation of learning in the early grades prepares the brain for more abstract thinking and higher-level reasoning. For optimal learning, developmental movement practices are intentionally embedded in student activities throughout our school day.