Last time, I promised to explain developmental movement patterns. I have been studying these movement patterns for the past 10 years, with an educator by the name of Carol Ann Erickson, from Florida.


I cannot tell you any more until I tell you a little about Carol Ann, truly my mentor and dear friend. I would not be doing what I do today if I hadn’t met her.

Carol Ann is an Educational Kinesiologist and International Brain Gym® Instructor. She has over thirty years’ experience as a private instructor and public schoolteacher at the elementary, secondary, and post-secondary levels. Over the past twenty-three years, Carol Ann has successfully used the specialized technology of Brain Gym Movements and Developmental Movement Patterns with educators and Olympic athletes. In addition to the Educational Kinesiology work, Carol Ann has studied with Harald Blomberg from Sweden and is an instructor of Rhythmic Movement Training. She has successfully implemented this program with therapists, parents and children. It has been a wonderful complementary movement program to the Movement Exploration Series that I have been fortunate to take.

I felt I needed to introduce you to her as she has introduced me to the science behind Developmental Movement patterns.

As I posted in How Catch a Brain Wave Came to Be, the body goes through a series of developmental movement patterns, actually beginning to emerge in utero.  The first movement pattern is spinal activation, then homologous movement, next homolateral movement, and finally contralateral movement.

So what exactly is Spinal Activation?

Spinal Activation involves an awareness of your spine from the base of the tailbone to the top of the head.

Spinal cat arch

Spinal movement is the main means of locomotion by the newborn and young infant as they wiggle along. It is experienced when the baby comes down through the birth canal during birth.

A great spinal movement you could try with your own children or students is to lie on the floor and pretend to be an inchworm or caterpillar. Reach with your head and wiggle your body up as you move along the ground.

Spinal inch worm

Imagine how long your inchworm or caterpillar can be. How scrunched up can your inchworm be. Can you be a caterpillar waking up and stretching out?

Another great spinal movement is pretending you are a turtle. Get down on your hands and knees, or curl in a tight ball, and reach your head out of your shell like you are a turtle poking its head out of its shell.

Spinal movements like these stimulate and support the development of the brain stem. The brain stem connects the brain with the spinal column.  It is responsible for basic survival needs and all motor and sensory nerve connections to the rest of the body. Basically, I tell people, the brain stem is the “Master in Control.”

I could go on forever about the importance of stimulating the brain stem, but for now I will leave you with the little tidbit I’ve explained. Not to worry, there will be more!

In the song Catch a Brain Wave, we wanted to activate the spine to move like an inchworm.  When we say, “Get your body going,” the child is to move like an inchworm, moving from the base of the tailbone to the top of the head.  I wanted more spinal movements, but it is hard to work them all in within a short time and to follow or fit a rhyme.  In the Smart Fitness, Smart Foods song, I was able to direct more attention to spinal movements when you are told to arch your back like a cat.

Have fun exploring these movements with your children. Next time, I will talk about the next movement pattern, homologous movement.

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