Home learning through lockdown

As 2021 begins we find ourselves back in lockdown, and looking for inspiring activities and home learning aids.

Hawthorn Press has practical books that can help with home education such as educational text books, crafts, seasonal projects, storytelling and literacy.

Pandemic Homeschooling

The Case for Homeschooling: free range home education handbook by Anna Dusseau is full of useful tips and advice on how to help your children learn at home. From a chapter on pandemic homeschooling, discussing how to juggle home learning with work and with tips to get you started, to 101 Activity Ideas, a Q&A section and suggested further reading and resources.

Early learning and movement?

Sally Goddard Blythe offers stories, songs with 2 CD’s, rhymes and exercises for early years brain development, attention, co-ordination and balance in Movement, your child’s first language.

Learning to write and read?

Parents of children aged 6-8 years will find Writing to Reading the Steiner Waldorf Way a creative, fun way of introducing literacy, from drawing the letters, to movement, telling stories to then writing and reading. Creative Form Drawing For the Four Temperaments with Children aged 6-10 years offers colourful pre-writing exercises.

Every family is a storytelling family and every child a storyteller?

Interested in telling nature stories? Then The Natural Storyteller has stories for telling orally. Using the story maps, you can easily tell the stories without reading and become a family storyteller. You can build up a repertoire of stories to tell your family, and impress your teachers on returning to school. You can find world stories in 147 Traditional Storiesfor children aged 7-12 to retell, and storytelling tips.

Seasonal Nature and Craft

Booksuch as The Children’s Forest offer stories and songs, wild food, recipes, crafts and celebrations for all the year round. Families can enjoy these, with seasonal things to look out for on your daily walks.

Crafting is a great way to spend time with your family, or to lose yourself in to counter feelings of anxiety or loneliness. Making with your hands is a great way of giving children the creative life skills for navigating this age of disruption. We have a wide variety of books including Making Soft DollsMaking the Children’s Year, Making Simple Needle Felts and Making Peg Dolls.

Our own Katy Bevan co-hosts a visible mending workshop, Meet Make Mend that you can now join online. The group will next meet on 13th January from 7 p.m. – sign up here.

There are also countless online tutorials springing up where you can join like-minded folk and make things together. For example, Hikaru Noguchi, author of Darning: Repair, Make, Mend is currently offering visible mending tutorials on IGTV and Steffi Stern, author of several crafting books published by Hawthorn Press, has a selection of online workshops available to watch via Youtube.

You can keep up-to-date on Hawthorn Press books, events and activity suggestions by following us on social media and by signing up to our monthly newsletter.

Reforesting Scotland Journal reviews Creative Place-Based Environmental Education and The Children’s Forest

These reviews appeared in the Spring/Summer 2020 issue (Issue 61) of the Reforesting Scotland Journal. For more information on these titles, please visit the books’ pages on our website: Creative Place-Based Environmental Education: Children and Schools as Ecopreneurs for Change and The Children’s Forest

New Research: Why Physical Foundations for Learning Matter by Sally Goddard Blythe MSc.

The below article was written by Sally Goddard Blythe, International Director of The Institute for Neuro-Physiological Psychology, and the author of multiple books, some published by us. You can find her books published by Hawthorn Press here, and more information about Sally Goddard Blythe and her work hereRaising Happy Healthy Children, a fully updated edition of What Babies and Children Really Need, will be published by us in August.

Educational policy by successive governments has increasingly been driven by aiming at outcomes rather than seeking to understand the processes of how children learn. New research confirms that there are wide differences in children’s physical readiness for learning and suggests that more detailed attention should be given to the physical foundations for learning in the pre-school and school years. Healthy babies, born at full term are equipped with a set of primitive reflexes, which support survival in the first months of life. Examples of primitive reflexes include the rooting and sucking reflexes, which facilitate feeding; the palmar grasp reflex and other reflexes which respond directly to stimulation of the balance mechanism. As connections to higher centres in the brain develop during the first six months of post-natal life, these early primitive reflexes are inhibited and/or transformed into postural reactions, which provide the foundations for subconscious control of posture, balance and coordination. In neurological terms, the process of early reflex integration consists of transition from brain stem reflex response to cortically controlled response. If primitive reflexes are retained beyond the first year of life or postural reactions do not develop fully, they provide indications of immaturity in the functioning of the central nervous system, can interfere with natural development and contribute to later difficulties with psychomotor development affecting social skills and educational performance. Numerous earlier studies have pointed to a relationship between residual primitive reflexes and educational under-achievement.[1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6]

In 1996, based on a method originally devised at The Institute for Neuro-Physiological Psychology (INPP), a screening test and school intervention programme was developed to enable teachers to identify signs of immaturity in psychomotor development, which might undermine school performance.[7] Following extensive evaluation,[8] [9] the screening test and school intervention programme was published in 2012[10] followed by a screening test for clinicians and health practitioners in 2014.[11]

New research carried out in Poland in 2016 and 2017 suggests that these screening tools should be more widely used by professionals involved in child development and education to help identify children who show signs of neuromotor immaturity (NMI) and who would benefit from physical intervention programmes to minimize the influence of developmental disorders on educational achievement.[12]

The first study involving 135 children (64 boys and 71 girls) in two age groups: 4-6 years (pre-school group) and 7–9 years (school age group), revealed that despite the theory that primitive reflexes are naturally inhibited in the first six months of life, they can and do persist in the general population. The authors commented that, “the study shows that spontaneous integration of reflexes is fuller in school age children than in pre-school children” and that “the introduction of screening and treatment of reflex integration at the stage of preschool and early childhood may be a part of the prevention of developmental disorders”. They also commented that wider population studies are recommended to define more accurate age standard for integration.

A second study by the same team involving 35 pre-school children assessed using both the INPP Screening Test(10) and the Motor Proficiency Test[13] showed that the greater the severity of the reflex(es), the lower the motor proficiency. The authors concluded that, “it seems reasonable to introduce reflex integration therapy in children with low psychomotor skills. Primitive reflexes routinely tested, can contribute to improved early psychomotor development in children with needs, thus preventing many difficulties which children can encounter within their social and school life”.

[1] Gustafsson D, 1971.  A comparison of basic reflexes with the subtests of the Purdue-Perceptual-Motor Survey. Unpublished Master’s Thesis, University of Kansas.

[2] Bender ML. 1976.Bender-Purdue Reflex Test and Training Manual. San Rafael, CA. Academic Publications.

[3] Rider B, 1976.  Relationship of postural reflexes to learning disabilities. American Journal of Occupational Therapy. 26/5:239-243.

[4] McPhillips M & Sheehy N, 2004.  Prevalence of persistent primary reflexes and motor problems in children with reading difficulties. Dyslexia  10/4:316-338

[5] Goddard Blythe SA, 2001. Neurological dysfunction as a significant factor in children diagnosed with dyslexia.  Proceedings of The 5th International British Dyslexia Association Conference. University of York. April 2001.

[6] Taylor M et al. 2004.  Primitive reflexes and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder: developmental origins of classroom dysfunction. International Journal of Special Education.19/1:23-37.

[7] Goddard Blythe SA, 1996. The INPP Test Battery and Developmental Exercise Programme for use in Schools with Children with Special Needs. Chester.  INPP Ltd.  Restricted Publication.

[8] North Eastern Education and Library Board (NEELB) 2004. An evaluation of the pilot INPP movement programme in primary schools in the North Eastern Education and Library Board (NEELB), Northern Ireland.  Final Report. Prepared by Brainbox Research Ltd for the NEELB. www.neeelb.org.uk.

[9] Releasing educational potential through movement.  A summary of individual studies carried out using the INPP Test Battery and Developmental Exercise Programme for use in Schools with Children with Special Needs. Child Care in Practice.11/4:415-432.

[10] Assessing neuromotor readiness for learning.  The INPP screening test and school intervention programme.  Chichester.  Wiley-Blackwell

[11] Goddard Blythe SA, 2014.  Neuromotor immaturity in children and adults. The INPP screening test for clinicians and health practitioners.  Chichester. Wiley-Blackwell.

[12] Gieysztor E, Sadowska L, Choińska AM, 2017.   The degree of primitive reflexes integration as a diagnostic tool to assess the neurological maturity of healthy pre-school and early school age children.  Journal of Public Nursing and Public Health. https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/

[13] Gieysztor E, Choińska AM, Paprocka-Borowicz M, 2016.  Persistence of primitive reflexes and associated motor problems in healthy pre-school children. Archives of Medical Science. https://doi.org/10.5114/acms.2016.60503

For further information on the screening tests and intervention programmes contact:

Sally Goddard Blythe

Sally Goddard Blythe,
1, Stanley Street
Chester CH1 2LR
Tel. 01244 311414

For further information on research from Poland contact the authors of references 12 and 13.

For further information about the author of this article www.sallygoddardblythe.co.uk and www.inpp.org.uk