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Research on the MtL Program


Christine Chapparo,
University of Sydney,

Further research on the MtL program led by Dr Chapparo.

Author: Dr Soezin Krog,
University of South Africa,
South Africa
Title:  "Movement programmes as a need to learning readiness"
Abstract:  Learning readiness is deficient in many first time school-going children. Learning readiness depends on a well-functioning neural network. Research has shown that movement as an early learning experience is necessary for optimal neural development. Presumably it is movement that activates the neural wiring in the brain. It influences neural organisation and stimulates the specific neurological systems required for optimal functioning and development of the brain. Some children are faced with motor proficiency deficits which may influence their learning and their readiness to learn. This study aimed at determining whether movement programmes are a means to promote and achieve learning readiness. A selected group of Grade two learners who participated in a specifically designed movement programme for ten weeks showed improvement in their levels of learning readiness based on their movement proficiency and academic level. Based on these findings, recommendations were made for the inclusion of movement in the school curriculum.


Author: Agnieszka Olechowska
Editor: Ewa Maria Kulesza
The Maria Grzegorzewska Academy of Special Education, Warsaw, Poland
"Movement, Vision, Hearing - The Basis of Learning"
Move to Learn Programme in Polish educational practice.

Results of pilot studies conducted in 2008-2010 as part of a project Methods of Neurodevelopmental Retardation Therapy of Children in Pre-School and Early Age  financed with resources assigned to own studies of The Maria Grzegorzewska Academy of Special Education.


Related Research and articles:

The effects of food additives on behaviour, health and learning ability 
For scientific papers regarding the effects of food additives on behaviour, health and learning ability in both children and adults., have a look at Sue Dengate's website;

Primitive Reflexes
Sally Goddard-Blythe has written a great book on this:
Reflexes, Learning and Behaviour 
(New and updated edition of ‘A Teacher‘s Window into the Child‘s Mind‘)
This unique and brilliant book explores the physical basis of learning difficulties, dyslexia, dyspraxia, Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD), with particular focus on the role of abnormal reflexes and the effect upon subsequent development.
Sally explains how the reflexes of infancy (primitive and postural) can affect the learning ability of the child if they are not inhibited and integrated by the developing brain in the first three years of life. Each reflex is described together with its function in normal development, and its impact upon learning and behaviour, if it remains active beyond the normal period.
Simple tests for the reflexes that are crucial to education are described, together with suggestions for suitable remedial intervention. The effect of abnormal reflexes on balance and sensory processing is also described. A brief history of how current methods of intervention designed to correct abnormal reflexes have evolved and a summary of some of the relevant research in the field are included.
This book is essential reading for parents, teachers, psychologists, optometrists and anyone involved in the assessment, education and management of children and their problems. It explains why certain children are unable to benefit from the same teaching methods as their peers and why they remain immature in other aspects of their lives.
And some articles by Sally:
“The Role of Reflexes in the Development of the Visual System” 
The Journal of Behavioural Optometry Vol. 6/1995/No 2

Also, take a look at Kathy Johnson's site, Pyramid of Potential, to see many interesting studies on Primitive Reflexes;

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder 
New research uncovering evidence that attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a genetic disorder has recently been published (Sept. 2010).
"Scientists at Cardiff University found that children with ADHD were more likely to have small segments of their DNA duplicated or missing than other children. The study also found significant overlap between these segments, known as copy number variants (CNVs), and genetic variants implicated in autism and schizophrenia, proving strong evidence that ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder - in other words, that the brains of children with the disorder differ from those of other children."

Movement and Learning
Sally Goddard Blythe MSc. FRSA, author of several books on child development, is a freelance consultant in neuro-developmental education and Director of the pioneering Institute for Neuro-Physiological Psychology in Chester (INPP) has written some great articles and Blog posts on her website:

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 - Sally Goddard Blythe
This paper provides a summary of findings from a series of independent studies that have been undertaken separately. The studies used a specific developmental test battery*/the Institute forNeuro-Physiological Psychology (INPP) Developmental Test Battery for use in schools with children with special educational needs*/with a total of 810 children, the object being to assess whether neurological dysfunction was a significant factor underlying academic achievement. All children were tested using the INPP Developmental Test Battery together with additional standard educational measures to assess drawing and reading at the beginning and end of the programme.
View Full Article

Neuro-motor Maturity as an Indicator of Developmental Readiness for Education. Report on the use of a Neuro-Motor Test Battery and Developmental Movement Programme in Schools in Northumberland and Berkshire © Sally Goddard Blythe MSc. FRSA

Specific Modes of Physical Activity & Cognitive development in children 
Wayne Haynes D.C D.O, Jana Kyte B. App.Sc/B.Chiro. Sc(Clinical), Wally Johnston D.O
This paper explores how different forms of physical activity have specific effects.
By using qualitative forms of physical activity the effect can be targeted resulting in improved outcomes in learning, behavioural & movement disorders. 
There are common nerve cells involved in both physical activity & cognitive functions. By using exercise appropriately cognitive processes can be improved.
Humans have an extended neuro-development period & are immature at birth. As newborns all movements automated & reflex in nature.  Physical experience moulds neuron connectivity during this early developmental period promoting refinement, expansion & pruning of nerves & their connections. By providing the right physical experience with exercise this will determine how the brain develops or changes how it has developed (via neuroplasticity).
To read the full paper, click here .

CLINICAL COMMENTARY Using Rolling to Develop Neuromuscular Control and Coordination of the Core and Extremities of Athletes
Barbara J. Hoogenboom, PT, EdD, SCS, ATCa Michael L. Voight, PT, DHSc, OCS, SCS, ATCb Gray Cook, MSPT, OCSc Lance Gill, MS, ATCd
The combined experience of the four authors is used to describe techniques for testing, assessment, and treatment of dysfunction, using case examples that incorporate rolling. The authors assert that therapeutic use of the developmental pattern of rolling with techniques derived from PNF is a hallmark in rehabilitation of patients with neurologic dysfunction, but can be creatively and effectively utilized in musculoskeletal rehabilitation.
To read this commentary, click here


Sensory Processing Disorder
For a comprehensive listing of Peer-reviewed research abstracts, articles, and other material regarding Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) click here:

For information on the history, theory and methods of Neurological Reorganisation, explore this amazing site!
Bette Lamont Executive Director  Developmental Movement Centre — Seattle, USA.

Summary of selected papers exploring Qualitative PA and cognition

Brown.B. The effect of an isometric strength program on the intellectual and social development of trainable retarded males. American Corrective Therapy Journal. 1967;31:44–48.POSTURAL STABILTY (PS) WITH ATTENTIONAL FOCUS. 40 12-year old boys with low IQ (Mean IQ=35). Children randomly placed to either a 6-week exercise isometric program (12 yoga-like activities) or an attention-control condition. Children who participated in a yoga exercise program, compared to controls improved on both the IQ test (exercise ES=0.54; control ES=0.13) and the social scale (exercise ES=0.86; non-exercise ES=0.08). Brown hypothesized that “Because the exercise tasks required the children to attend, use memory and reasoning processes, and control motor movements exercise-related improvements were due to the mental demands experienced by children.”

Buddea H, Voelcker-Rehageb C, Pietraßyk-Kendziorraa S, Ribeiroc P. Acute coordinative exercise improves attentional performance in adolescents. Neuroscience Letters. 2008;441:219–223.. COORDINATION CONCENTRATION ATTENTION IN HIGH ACADEMIC ACHIEVERS (gifted kids). 115 adolescents 13–16yrs. Intervention daily coordination exercises (CE). CE more effective in completing the concentration and attention task compared to controls. “Because of neuronal connections between the cerebellum and the frontal cortex, bilateral CE may effect cognition!” “CE might lead to a pre-activation of parts of the brain which are also responsible for mediating functions like attention.”

Knight D, Rizzuto T. The Relations for Children in Grades 2, 3 and 4 between Balance Skills and Academic Achievement. Perceptual and Motor Skills. 1993;76:1296-1298. RELATIONS FOR CHILDREN IN GRADES 2, 3, AND 4 BETWEEN PS AND ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT. 122 7-11 year olds. 10 dynamic or static postural tests were judged pass/fail and score given out of 10. High correlation between high balance scores and success in numeracy and reading in data suggest the reading and mathematics academic achievement scores increase as several balance skill scores increase.

Reynolds D, Nicolson R, Hambly H. Evaluation of an Exercise-based Treatment for Children with Reading Difficulties. Dyslexia. 2003.9:48–71. QUALITATIVE PA PROGRAMS’ INFLUENCE ON AS IN DYSLEXIA. Evaluation of an Exercise-based Treatment for Children with Reading Difficulties (Dyslexia). Halsam school project provided statistically significant improvements in reading, reading comprehension and numeracy. Program provided training in postural stability, movement coordination and visual attention to task.

Vieiraa S, Quercia P, Michela C, Pozzo T, Bonnetblanca F. Cognitive demands impair postural control in developmental dyslexia: A negative effect that can be compensated. Neurosci Lett. 2009;462(2):125-129. Dyslexic children show cerebellar signs, such as motor coordination impairment, reach and gaze overshoot or unbalance, inaccurate ocular proprioception. The link between PS deficits and dyslexia opens the possibility to improve PS and reading abilities. Treatment included postural advice, PS training, breathing exercises and application of prism glasses Possible to recalibrate the relationship between cognitive demands and PS in dyslexic children. Cognitive demands and balance control are linked and interact in developmental dyslexia. Significant improvement in reading scores in intervention group

Tsai CL. The effectiveness of exercise intervention on inhibitory control in children with developmental coordination disorder: using a visuospatial attention paradigm as a model. Res Dev Disabil. 2009;30(6):1268-80. Epub 2009 Jun 3. TABLE TENNIS AS A QUALIATIVE PA INTERVENTION FOR ENHANCED COGNITION. Table tennis promotes eye hand co-ordination, attention, focus, strategy formation and PS under low to moderate PA intensity load. Examined the effect on attentional networks in 43 9-10 year olds with DCD. Intervention and control. M-ABC and cognitive control task. Table-tennis training resulted insignificant improvement of cognitive and motor functions for the children with DCD.

Rothlisberger M, Michel E. Development and evaluation of motor coordination training for children in special-needs classes Prax Kinderpsychol Kinderpsychiatr. 2009;58(3):215-30. Medline abstract. (German Publication). QUALITATIVE PA TRAINING IN SPECIAL NEEDS CHILDREN AND THE COGNITIVE INFLUENCE. Special need children perform systematically poorer in executive functions and motor coordination skills compared to non-selected controls. Qualitative PA included body coordination, rhythm and balance with flexibility of action, interference control and focused attention. Training - easy to complex, action accuracy to speed, teacher guidance to children's self monitoring. 3 weeks duration. 53 children were trained daily for 20 mins. “children in the training condition caught up during training in specific cognitive and motor tasks, and trained children showed a more optimistic self-concept. Training effects were pronounced for children with balance problems.”

Niklasson M, Niklasson I, Norlander T. Sensorimotor therapy: using stereotypic movements and vestibular stimulation to increase sensorimotor proficiency of children with attentional and motor difficulties. Percept Mot Skills. 2009;108(3):643-69. PRE-ADOLESCENT BALANCE TRAINING IMPROVES SENSORY MOTOR PROFILE IN LEARNING DISORDER, DCD, ADHD sensorimotor therapy Retraining for PS. 232 children (181 boys, 51 girls), whose mean age was 9.3 yr. (SD = 2.7), presented attentional and motor difficulties. Treatment period 3 years. Study authors suggested PS training may prove a viable treatment for children with Developmental Coordination Disorder, Learning Disability, and ADHD. Study included as authors suggested possible relationship with cognitive function and balance training.

Movement and Learning: the importance of unstructured play versus playing on the computer
Natalie Garmson, is a certified infant massage instructor (C.I.M.I), and internationally qualified as a Massage in Schools Instructor (M.I.S.I) with Massage in Schools Australia Inc. She is the Research Officer and Mendeley Co-ordinator for the International Association of Infant Massage. Her background is in science and aromatherapy and she has written several well researched articles. 

You'll find her articles posted in her blog: