First, I’d like to thank Sarah for allowing me to guest post here on her lovely site. She has down to earth practical ideas that I use in our home all the time with my little nature lovers.
Hi, I’m Rebecka Spencer, and I am a doctor of Education. I have taught in public schools and Christian schools from early childhood through high school, been a part of the faculties of Missouri State University faculty and State Fair Community College, and was the leading author in a study produced by the Missouri Reader in Reading and student achievement, but my heart is that of Christian education, homeschooling and helping all children THRIVE. I helped establish a little Christian school in our hometown that’s truly a unique and lovely model being that we get to homeschool and partner with amazing parents and teachers to help our learners THRIVE.
Cherish Children Ministries
Cherish Children Ministries has been my latest endeavor as I get to help moms and educators across the globe get their little dyslexics and struggling learners THRIVING with easy tools and exercises that you can do at home for free.
Learn more: https://www.cherishchildrenministries.org
Most of all, you see, I am a mom of three boys and two of those have learning disabilities. Let me share with you a bit of my own story in hopes to encourage you in your homeschool journey.
Our firstborn was a natural reader, he just seemed to know what to do without a hitch, but our middle son was a different story. Weighing in at 10 lb. 1 oz. unto his 120 lb. momma, he broke his clavicle upon entrance into the world, had nursing complications and began walking at nine months. This would later be significant as I learned more about primitive reflex integration.
Two years later came our third son, and he was born hearing impaired. Multiple tests were run and frequent visits to the audiologist were made just to learn that he had no nerve endingsfor hearing on his right side. We were instructed to do as much as we could to protect the hearing he did have. I was continually asked if I did anything during pregnancy, to which I would cry and have hurt feelings. I mean I was the youngster who never partook of any kind of drinking or drugs or alcohol of any kind, and I couldn’t believe I was being asked these questions. I felt like such a failure. You can imagine how difficult it was.
To encourage you…
I really write this to encourage you with your struggling learners and even with your children who are avid readers and those who may have a few quirky struggles such as toe walking or difficulty maintaining focus.
Remember how I said our firstborn was a natural reader? Well he was also the pickiest eater in the entire universe. Why are these facts in the same sentence?
THIS was actually significant and here’s why.
I did not realize this would indicate a sign that he had some weak areas in the right hemisphere of his brain. We all know that toddlers can be pretty picky, but to not even want to look at your chocolate cake for your first birthday or want to taste the homemade ice-cream made especially for you by your grandmother…I thought something must be awry.
Little did I know that this would later lead me to gain moreknowledge and insight into brain balance learning and primitive reflex integration.
I didn’t really think much about the hearing impairdness or the broken clavicle or walking at nine months that is until….
The homeschool days.
I remember praying for wisdom and crying out to God asking Him to just help me figure out what I could do to help our sons. The oldest was rowdy and hopped from one thing to another while our middle son tried his hardest to read and had to relearn words every single day, and I was trying to potty train the baby.I tried a variety of recommended curricula. I spent hundreds of dollars on everything I was told to do, but to no avail…we would take 2 steps forward and 5 steps backward more times than not. We had tears every single day. Teaching him how to read was an absolute nightmare. I felt like a complete failure. I did not understand how I could teach hundreds of kids through the years how to read and succeed, but I couldn’t teach my own child.
I had some classes on Brain Balance and Brain Based Learning while in college, and then one of the school districts in which I taught began to incorporate such learning into the classroom. It was quite amazing really, as I think back on it, but little did I know I would need to pull that knowledge and experience out of my tool belt with my own child after being home for almost 5 years just being a mom for a while until I re-entered the classroom.
I began to integrate some of what I remembered one summer, and I saw immediate success which encouraged me to continue my education and take some more classes in this. I did, and I then learned all about retained primitive reflexes and how they can negatively affect learning if not integrated by certain ages. Primitive reflexes are found at the base of the brainstem, and in order for higher level learning to occur, the primitive reflexes need to be integrated.
I learned to check all of the milestones and I realized that none of our children had all of their primitive reflexes completely integrated. I did not realize they were hanging on to them.
Country living allowed for our boys to play outside and have a lot of free play, so I did not think anything about it. I figured they were getting fresh air and exercise and had all they needed physically.
Then I realized, our firstborn who began reading at the age of three, a bright student, self-learner…he was also a toe-walker,couldn’t do a jumping jack, fell over every time he tried to stand on one foot, and he could not ever taste any of his food. I had an “ah ha” moment when I realized the olfactory sense was not functioning as it should and he did not have a real sense of proprioception.
He just had a simple brain imbalance.
I learned that I needed to actually isolate the weak side of the brain and do easy exercises with him to help strengthen it, so we did. I became more intentional with our most loved outdoor play encouraging crossover and balancing kinds of exercises.
For the first time, my son actually said, “Wow, mom, I can taste my food.” AND he has great balance and can do over one hundred jumping jacks at a time…AMAZING!
Our second son could not connect letters and words together. He had such choppy reading and would literally sound every single letter. He could comprehend EVERY SINGLE WORD of what he had just read, and I couldn’t figure out why or how he could restate IN DETAIL what he had read. He really did comprehend. It was then I began to learn how his brain actually functioned. You see, he had a heavy right brain and weaker left brain. When the brain gets out of balance; we simply need to strengthen the weak side so it can communicate once again with the opposite side. I knew I needed to help him strengthen his left side because this is where the word form area lies and where reading actually occurs.
Dyslexia is REAL.
These kids work twice as hard, often get headaches and tire quickly. There is GOOD NEWS! I decided to have a peace inside of myself to TAKE A BREAK from curriculum for 6 weeks and just focus on primitive reflexes first. THIS was truly a game changer for us.
These precious children are brilliant, they really are. They are the successful entrepreneurs who may not have been successful in school…BUT…they are the best problem solvers, and learn how to pick up the pieces and keep going. Failure is not an option for them. Just like our middle son learned during his language lesson on maxims… “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” T.H. Palmer.
Retained Primitive Reflexes
I discovered he had retained primitive reflexes still presentincluding the MORO, ATNR, STNR, ROOTING, PALMAR, TONIC LABYRINTHINE, SPINAL GALANT, and LANDAU reflexes. I would do the exercises with him each day for just a few minutes and literally within weeks, this precious child was reading more fluently than I had ever dreamed. His confidence immediately built, and he could not wait to share a short storyout of one of his favorite old readers with his grandparents. (I have videos on my youtube channel for these exercises if you need them).
Remember the broken clavicle, nursing complications and walking at nine months? These were all red flags. You see, children need to actually use the primitive reflexes in order to get them all integrated.
Primitive Reflexes are the special reflexes that develop in the brain stem before birth. These involuntary reflexes help the baby with positioning in the womb, birthing, the first breath of life, feeding, and urination amongst others. Usually, primitive reflexes integrate through the first year of life as higher functions of the brain and muscle control develop.
If any of them remain past 12 months, they are retained and can cause issues such as Autism, Autism Spectrum Disorders, Hemispheric Imbalance, Sensory Disorders, Hyper Activity, ADHD, Speech Disorders, Social Disorders, Asthma, Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, Dyscalculia, Immune Problems, and others.
Once they are integrated, many learning disabilities, behavioral, sensory disorders, and health issues disappear or are greatly improved. Checking for each of them, is very important even if your child is not displaying the usual symptoms. If one remains unnoticed, it slows improvement in cognitive function.
I realized this was the first hurdle to jump on the road to success and it wasn’t even that difficult. It was free, easy, and I didn’t need any special equipment or expensive curriculum or center for therapy. I could do it all in the comfort of my own home.
Integrating primitive reflexes can solve a multitudes of issues. Brain balanced therapy and hemisphere integration work when these are integrated FIRST. After these are all integrated, then and only then will REAL LONGTERM RESULTS come to fruition. I was merely treating the symptom when I was changing curriculum and listening to all of the latest and greatest, but until I began to determine the “functional” issue, is when I began to see the longterm and long-lasting results that I wanted so desperately for my children.
Our Hearing Impaired Child
Our hearing impaired child has been doing exercises to strengthen the weak side of his brain as well. We have not been back to the audiologist, but I know that the more neurons that fire together wire together and we have been working hard on getting them all fired up. It is my prayer when we return to the audiologist, he will see healthy neurons present…God is still working miracles.
Can you imagine how difficult it must be for children who have the two hemispheres of the brain out of sync where they cannot even communicate with one another, especially now that we know the left hemisphere actually controls the word form area and the right side does the comprehension…WOW!
Once these get back in sync, they can start talking to each other again, and it’s SO EASY. You can do all of this in the comfort of your own home and do not have to spend hundreds of dollars for special equipment.
Right now, there are homeschool moms and teachers everywhere struggling just to help struggling the struggling learners in their care and are willing to do whatever it takes to get REAL RESULTS, RESULTS that LAST, LONG TERM RESULTS.
I hope this is an encouragement to you wherever you are on your homeschool journey. Our lives all look a little bit different, but in the end, we all want what is best for our precious children entrusted to us by God the Creator.
Is every day beautiful?
No. Is reading our child’s favorite subject? No. Yes, we still have bad days here and there, but you know what….MOST days are productive and the best part is he LIKES to read and is THRIVING in all academic areas.
FREE MINI VIDEO SERIES HERE!
I liken what Cherish Children Ministries does to coaching a sport’s team. Not every coach played professional sports. Success as a player is not necessary to being a good coach. Great coaches know the game better than the players. Parents know their kids better than anyone. Your expertise has to do with crafting strategies and helping your children see what they can’t see while they are in the game of learning. Coaches focus on how to make bodies move in the right ways to get maximum performance from their players just as you, parents focus on ways to maximize your child’s performance along the educational road. Parents enable gifted children to perform to their highest God given potential because they can convey the right kind of information that causes growth, self-awareness, and flexibility in critical moments. THIS is what I get to do, and I am passionate about it.
You see, I don’t have any special power that you don’t have. YOU know your kids! Your kids are smart, and they WILL SUCCEED with the right protocol and with the right dose of love and encouragement, you will THRIVE.