Today’s course covered “How to Teach Your Baby to be Physically Superb.” Prior to this course, I purchased this book because I was curious – what do the “brain” people know about physical fitness? Does learning math and reading at a young age make a kid more fit? Little did I know, I had it completely backwards.
I realize the stereotype of “dumb jocks” and scrawny nerds make this program seem a little absurd. But physical ability, as it turns out, not only builds muscle but it helps build the brain, especially at this young age when our children’s brains are growing so rapidly. I won’t go into the science of it because I could never explain it as eloquently as Glenn Doman or the staff at the Institutes. To get a brief summary, check this out. It is a little difficult to understand (another reason I bought the book), but once you realize what it is saying, it is rather simple.
Some of what Doman proposes makes sense, because parents have been doing these things forever. You know how the dads love to take their babies and toss them in the air, or have you ever taken your toddler by the hands and spun him around in the air like a helicopter? It turns out, our instincts were onto something – allowing our babies to experience different positions in space and testing their balance by spinning them or bouncing them help grow the part of the brain responsible for things like balance and coordination. But because the brain is so interconnected, when you grow that piece of the brain, you are also improving capability for the other feats, like language and vision.
If you’ve been researching the Institutes, you may have come across some criticisms of what they do. One of the things they propose in this book is keeping babies prone (on their bellies). This is in absolute contradiction to the “Back to Sleep” Campaign. Again, I don’t have the space to get into their details, but I will tell you it all makes perfect sense. By putting babies in a more natural position, all of their seemingly random motions (the waving of arms and legs when they are on their backs) suddenly become useful. Did you know that a newborn baby can crawl? It is possible – it happens in some other cultures the minute that baby is born. The amount of stimulation and learning that occurs when a baby is on its stomach is so powerful, it makes keeping a baby on their back (or in a swing, bouncy seat, etc) and only allowing them 10-15 minutes a day of “tummy time” seem like punishment.
For each session, we get to observe parents with their kids who attend the school at the Institute. Usually, we see what it looks like to apply what we are learning with our kids. Most of the physical demonstration did just that – we observed a mom doing the passive balance program with her 4 month old (which the baby loved to no end!), we saw another mom doing the active balance program with her 2, 5 and 7-year-old kids. But the tear jerking, eye-opening part was the big gymnastics routine at the end, where all of the kids at the Institute, ages 4 to 13, performed together. And while there were some kids who looked like miniature Olympic hopefuls, if it weren’t for the mixed ages, it could have just been a group of kids from any local gymnastics school. What was so amazing? These were kids who:
- We had met earlier in the week – kids who were reading Shakespeare at 5 years old (with complete understanding and loving it as much as most 5 year olds love Barney).
- Learned this 10 minute routine in 2 weeks, meeting only twice a week for 2-3 hours. We were told at a normal gymnastics school, it takes kids about 6 weeks to learn a routine, practicing 4-5 days a week.
- Not only love gymnastics, but they are all amazing swimmers, seasoned runners, bikers, hikers etc. And they do most of these other activities with their parents and families.
The emotion overcame most of us when we realized how much our children are capable of. These kids have learned the great joy of using your body in the way it was meant to be used – in motion, not plopped in front of a TV. Their brains are filled with information that will be useful to them for the rest of their life. What is even more moving is that the families are doing these things together with their children. Ask the kids what some of their favorite activities are, and you will hear them talk about going on 6 mile bike rides with their dads, or running 3 miles a day with their moms, or going hiking with the whole family.
This is the kind of life that most parents today only dream of, or at least I do. When Moose turned 2, we started getting bored with our daily routine. I will admit, there were days when I would stare at the clock and say, is it seriously only 1 o’clock? then I started counting down the minutes for Ben to get home. Now, armed with so many ideas for ways to enrich our lives both mentally and physically, I am worried that there aren’t enough hours in our waking day! This past week, I brought my empty plate to the most amazing buffet table, and it is piled high. We still have a day and a half left. Guess I better grab a second plate 🙂