In my Average Day Chart for this coming year, I still have half the morning blank. I decided to turn my attention (when it wasn’t focused on my grand office overhaul) to planning our drill time. Drill is the Charlotte Mason lingo for physical education, if you feel a little out of the loop on this one. This is because Charlotte Mason used mostly Swedish drill (along with a bit of folk dancing) for her physical education curriculum.
Last year, I actually downloaded The Swedish Drill Teacher to my Kindle (and now there is a 50+ page PDF available), and used it as our guide for the year. How did it go? I’m glad you asked. 😉 I would say it went fine. I would also say that I had some issues with consistency. The reason for this, besides plain old lack of will power, ahem, is that I had a lack of routine, and I really do work best with routine. For me lack of routine equates to a need to make decisions and decisions quickly pile up into Decision Fatigue.
When push came to shove, I was willing to count other physical activities as drill credit, rather than try to muster the energy that more consistency at actual drill required.
By lack of routine, I don’t mean routine in the sense of doing it three times a week as I planned. What I mean was that each time, I open the Kindle and we did some old things and then learned something new. There was never a complete routine that we learned — there was always something new. Now, that isn’t a bad thing, except that I would have to decide what the new thing was and how to teach it and so while Term 1 went swimmingly, as it usually does, in Term 2 when it was cold outside and I came down with a bug, I didn’t have the energy for that.
So. This year, we’re going to do it differently.
A Little Background
When Kathy told me once that she was struck by the similarities between Swedish drill and Brain Gym, and then she later sent me a copy of the Brain Gym teacher’s guide, I became intrigued. I didn’t make time to sit down and figure it out, but my mind kept chewing on it throughout the year. A couple times we even learned some of the Brain Gym exercises on a drill day.
At the same time, I was constantly researching for things to help my less academic child. While she reads quite well, she has some other difficulties that I think would be helped by therapy, and I’ve been on the lookout for therapy programs that we could do at home.
Somehow, I stumbled upon Intelligence Integration. The author is not a Christian, so I’ve had to be careful with the book (some of it is a little New Agey or something — can’t quite put my finger on the exact right term for it), but when I did the screening test with my children, two of them had extreme difficulties (one of them being said less academic child), which gave me hope that the therapy program suggested in the book could be helpful for both of them — and wouldn’t hurt the rest of us.
While not cheap, Intelligence Integration is way cheaper than therapy, so I considered it worth a shot. I was a little intimidated when it arrived, so thick and heavy, and was delightfully surprised that it was not full of big words in professional therapy dialect, but rather written as a manual for parents. It was designed for someone like me, who wants to do what professionals trained in this method would do, at home on my own.
Okay, so I can’t exactly share my actual plan, because all of the exercises I’m going to use are the intellectual property of the authors of the two books I mentioned above. But I can explain how I plan to plan (ha!) and how I envision it all working out.
My first step has been figuring out exactly which Intelligence Integration exercises each of my children need — only one of them completely passed the screening test. After that, I’m going to go through and note which Brain Gym exercises I think would be of most benefit for our situation and particular weaknesses. On top of that, I’m also going to add in a bit of running, something my father mentioned to me as a big benefit from he was in school because it builds leg strength.
I have set aside 25 minutes, three days per week, for our drill time. I envision it this way:
- I’ll send the two older children out to run around the block.
- While they are gone, I’ll do a pre-designed therapy routine with the younger two.
- When the older two return, I’ll send the younger two out to run. They won’t be running around the block, but just up and down the street and back.
- While the younger two are gone, I will do a therapy routine with the older two.
- End with one or two Brain Gym exercises all together. I’ll probably have a loop schedule of these so that they aren’t the same ones all the time, but I still won’t have to make any decisions.
My goal is that they all have their routines memorized and perfected by the end of Term 1. This means that when Term 2 starts, and I have my inevitable sick week, they will be able to manage themselves. I have noticed that if I can keep us from falling off the horse at the beginning of Term 2, we do much better for the rest of the entire year.
A Few Parting Thoughts
Obviously, I could have just built a Swedish drill routine. That would have been fine, and also free since the resources are easy to download and use online. But considering my specific concerns about some of my children — one in particular — I think this will be more useful for us. Swedish drill, for example, does not have eye tracking exercises, while Intelligence Integration does. Make sense?
Honestly, if we didn’t have any issues at all, I’d be tempted to just find some sort of exercise video that wasn’t too girly (because boys, you know), and just memorize it. Or even two videos to alternate. I think Pilates, for example, has a lot of therapy-type benefits.
Early on, I didn’t really believe that planning a physical education time was very important, but over the years I very much changed my mind. Intelligence Integration and Brain Gym in particular have convinced me that some if not many of the problems we see with learning are directly related to a lack of control of muscles systems, and that targeted exercises can make a real difference. Plus, hyperactive little boys will have a chance to blow off some steam, and that smooths the school day, too.
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