Brain Gym to the Rescue

Three of us recently visited Grounds for Sculpture, a 42 acre park and museum located in New Jersey in Hamilton Township. If you love sculpture situated among beautiful gardens, this is the place to be. The number of sculptures there have probably exceeded three hundred at this point. And, if one is going to make the trip, then make a reservation at Rats restaurant located on the grounds next to a postcard-ready pond with vents periodically spraying mist.

When my friends and I sat down for lunch on the outside canopied patio, we discovered unexpected diners: ducks. Yes, several of them liked to come up from the banks and troll for crumbs under and around the tables. We were charmed, briefly observed their meanderings and then moved our attention to the menu.

What is charming for some is terrifying for others. I quickly noticed a young girl about tenish in age sitting at a round table occupied by three adults and a teenaged girl. This little one was paralyzed with fear when one of the ducks waddled near their table. She just couldn’t move. The teenager kept shooing away the duck, the mother kept attempting to calm her daughter and the other diners kept watching the drama.

Something had to be done, so I got up and went over to the table. As a licensed Brain Gym practitioner I knew I could help. I asked permission to help the girl calm down which was immediately granted. I then guided her into doing a hook-up, one of 26 simple movements which make up Brain Gym. In the book Brain Gym: Teacher’s Edition the authors Paul and Gail Dennison quote the usefulness of doing a hook-up as follows: When the attention is focused on the body’s extremities in a fight-or-flight response, doing hook-ups draws the attention back to the body’s midline and core postural muscles, supporting higher-order thinking and choice making. Doing the activity invites calm while focusing and organizing scattered attention. Page 68 of their book explains how to do the movement.

As for our little one, the movement helped her as well as her mother. The girl was able to stay calm, get up from her chair, and  leave the patio with her family.

Hook-ups are useful to know when students are in a principal’s office, each giving their version of what happened during the fight. It’s good to get the body calmed first before reflective talking can occur. Hook-ups are also useful to teach students before taking tests. And they are wonderful to start class in the morning and after lunch to calmly refocus ourselves for learning. Our uses for doing hook-ups are only limited by our creativity.


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