The Brain-Body Connection and the Vestibular System: How does it relate to Reading?

The brain and body work together as a machine. This machine is designed to move through space efficiently. Vision is involved with walking and maintaining balance. Additionally, arms and legs swing, counterbalancing each other. The hips and buttocks stabilize the body. A person with good vision can see and read a sign that is 20 feet away while walking. The eye needs to be very stable in space. Together, the neck and vestibular system stabilize and refine the head and vision system.

The brain-body connection and the vestibular system are central to learning and processing information. The vestibular system is the sensory system that is the lead contributor to your sense of balance and spatial orientation. This system sends signals to the neural structures that control eye movement. The vestibular system helps us to focus our perception of objects and words. This is the system that helps us interact with the environment.

New neural connections are created whenever we throw or catch a ball, ride a bike, or even learn to read. When you input new information through your senses, your brain interprets this information and forms new connections. This is the work of the higher brain, the part of the brain that allows us to sense and understand the world around us.

During the process of walking, the vestibular system is activated. Your ability to control your body’s movement happens with your nervous system, spinal cord, brain stem, cortex, reticular system, and the limbic system working together. Information is passed up and down the body through the spinal cord. When the specific actions are executed, the tactile, auditory, motor, and visual systems sense the actions. Once the actions are completed, the cortex processes the information and performs higher-order thinking from the information generated during the activity. The cortex provides feedback as well as updates the memory banks.

This is why the vestibular system is considered the entryway to the brain and is said to have the most important influence on everyday functioning. The vestibular system is “the unifying system that directly or indirectly influences nearly everything we do,” (Hannaford, 1995, p. 38).

How Are Reading Activities Impacted by the Brain-Body Connection?

So, the vestibular system is important to higher-order thinking, receiving and interpreting data. Think about this for a minute. We receive information from taste, smell, seeing, hearing, and doing (tactile/kinesthetic). Once we receive the information, the brain needs to interpret the data. So, when we receive input in terms of words, shapes, sizes, directions, and space, the vestibular system sifts through the information and helps to interpret it, sending it to specific areas of the brain to gain meaning.

Simply stated, the vestibular system and the brain-body connection directly impact your ability to receive and interpret information: words, sentences, paragraphs, stories. It allows us to see the shapes, sizes, and positions of letters in space. Additionally, this system helps you to visually scan words across a page to read fluently and accurately. Without the ability to scan words across a page quickly and accurately, reading is stilted and comprehension is lost. So, as we improve the vestibular system, the system of brain balance, reading improves.

Brain-Body Activities

Brain-body activities are typically movement activities that are fun for kids of all ages and are done in just a few minutes. Activities can be as simple as balancing on an exercise ball, doing a tree pose, or tossing bean bags. The sensory systems in our brain are all interconnected and when we develop them in different ways, it also helps improve our academic skills. Even NASA has done extensive research on how brain-body activities can impact our ability to learn. Our Summer Reading Program includes numerous brain balance activities to improve reading skills.

Who is Bonnie Terry?

Bonnie Terry is a Board Certified Educational Therapist and internationally recognized as America’s Leading Learning Specialist and the founder of BonnieTerryLearning.com. Terry is an expert in developing learning programs that target how people learn through the visual, auditory, and tactile/kinesthetic processing systems. Terry coaches teachers and parents so they can give their child a 2 to 4-year learning advantage in just 45-60 minutes a day. She is a frequent media guest and speaker.

Learn more about the Summer Reading Program

4 Steps to Prevent the Summer Slide (Learning Loss)

Wait, you want to prevent the summer slide, slip-n-slide? No, not that type of slide. We like that type of slide! We’re talking about the learning loss that kids often experience by not being in school over the summer. This is commonly referred to as the summer slide.

Summer break is upon us. This is your time to make a choice for your child: make a difference in their reading experience or fall behind with the summer slide? Children can lose between two and four months of learning over the summer. Children that struggle can lose between four and six months of learning.

You can make a difference to not only prevent the summer slide but also improve your child’s skills. You can even have fun while helping your child improve their skills. They can improve their skills in as little as 30-60 minutes a day, so they can still have tons of free time.

Step 1 to Prevent the Summer Slide: Plan Your Days, Weeks, and Months

I know that planning might sound like a strange summer activity, but it is really important. I’m sure you’ve all heard the statement, “fail to plan, plan to fail.” This applies very aptly to what are you going to do over the summer to ensure your children don’t succumb to the summer slide. However, more importantly, this applies to your child’s ability to be a part of the planning process. Children don’t automatically wake up one day as they get older and know how to plan their priorities as well as their day.

During the school year, so much of a child’s life is planned for them, from the moment they get up, to going to school, to after-school activities, and then bedtime. Teaching planning skills and being part of the planning process over the summer is one of the first chances they really get to be involved in planning.

When you have a stake in the plan, in what you are doing for the day, week, month, or field trip activity helps you to also give you a sense of belonging and self-worth. So, this is why planning and executive function activities are part of our 2018 Summer Reading Program. This gives children a chance to experience and carry out planning in a non-stressful way. Additionally, the planning process actually does improve reading skills.

Step 2 to Prevent the Summer Slide: Take Family Field Trips

Plan family field trips or adventures on Fridays or over the weekend. Rally together as a family and decide where you want to go. Let everyone speak up and ask even the youngest for their ideas. You don’t have to go far on your trips. Open up a map or search Google to find different parks, businesses, or museums that you haven’t been. This research phase can be a great part of the process of discovering where you want to go. Open up a calendar and plan out what days you can go where.

Then, to help your kids retain the wonderful experiences they are having, it is important to help them to process the activity. An easy way to do that is to have them write simple summary paragraphs about where you went and what they liked or didn’t like about the excursion. It is great to use fill-in-the-blank graphic organizers to help them with this. We have specially designed graphic organizers in our summer reading program.

Taking the important step of processing what they have done in a written format increases your children’s ability to make multiple connections with the activity. This increases comprehension in a multiple of ways. This will also give your children an enlarged memory bank of background knowledge to bring to any reading activity they do in the future.

Step 3 to Prevent the Summer Slide: Improve Reading Skills

summer slide reading fluencyOne of the most important things you can do to boost reading skills is to improve reading fluency. In our summer reading program, you will get our specially designed reading drills to improve your reading speed and accuracy. This part of the program just takes 5 minutes a day. Daily, short fluency training can make a huge difference in improving reading skills over the summer.

Learn about the 2018 Summer Reading Program

Step 4 to Prevent the Summer Slide: Enroll in the Summer Reading Program

We provide the framework, the overarching summer weekly schedule and even teach your kids how to plan their free time. Then we provide the video and audio lessons, reading material, and fun activities so your kids have a little bit of content work and then have the rest of the day to do whatever they want to.

The 6-Week Summer Reading Program includes:

  • Reading Fluency
  • Spelling
  • Comprehension
  • Phonics
  • Executive Function
  • Brain Balance Body Connection Activities
  • Video and Audio Lessons
  • Weekly Schedule
  • Easy Online Access
  • Help and Support

The difference is amazing. Sign up for our Summer Reading Program.

Who is Bonnie Terry?

Bonnie Terry, M. Ed., BCET is the author of Five Minutes To Better Reading Skills, Ten Minutes To Better Study Skills and numerous others books, reading games, and guides and the Awaken the Scholar Within Programs. She is a Board Certified Educational Therapist and internationally recognized as America’s Leading Learning Specialist and the founder of BonnieTerryLearning.com. Terry is an expert in identifying students’ learning disabilities. Ms. Terry coaches teachers and parents so they can give their child a 2 to 4-year learning advantage in just 45-60 minutes a day. She is a frequent media guest and speaker.