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Lifelong learning begins with the senses and not with brainwork

Have you ever tried to learn something and it just wouldn't work? There are several reasons for this. E.g. the state of our nervous system, self-regulation and sensory integration. These three are closely related and create the foundation for (lifelong) learning.

The foundation is our central nervous system, which is closely linked to our sensory systems. Sensory processing skills are the foundation for learning and behavior regulation. So if the lower levels of the learning pyramid are not stable, we may have difficulty concentrating, completing tasks, and learning new things.

Pyramid of Learning, Williams & Shellenberger

Sensory integration, i.e. the reception, processing and meaningful networking of sensory information in the brain, begins even before birth and is an important component of child development. It is the basis for learning other skills, such as speaking, reading, writing, concentration, gross/fine motor skills, but also behavior and self-assessment. This process is therefore crucial not only for our sensorimotor development, but for all conceptual and cognitive learning processes that we need as adults if we want to develop further.

Our bodies are organized "bottom up" so to speak (see Williams & Shellenberger pyramid). It all starts with our nervous system and sensory perception. Only then do motor planning, posture, balance, coordination, gross/fine motor skills, etc. develop based on this until we are finally capable of "academic learning". We need to master each skill of the pyramid step by step in order to advance to higher skills such as (emotional) self-regulation, attention and learning.

"Self-regulation is the ability to achieve, change, or maintain an appropriate level of alertness to a task or situation" (Williams & Shellenberger, 1996). The ability to change our level of alertness is the basis for learning and change.

In a low state of alertness we can fall asleep well but are not ready to learn, in a high state of alertness we like to cheer for our favorite club and are very active, but even in this state learning is difficult. So our goal in training and coaching is to reach an optimal state of alertness, thus preparing our nervous system for learning, working and interacting. If we can apply strategies for self-regulation, our senses can be used and utilized much more easily.

In my coaching sessions, I work a lot with embodiment and, among other things, with the Safe and Sound Protocol of iLS to bring the Autonomic Nervous System into a state of alertness that is ready to learn and relaxed. In addition, we use the Focus System program (combination of music, playful exercises and movements) to stimulate communication between the two hemispheres of the brain, promote proprioception and strengthen hand-eye coordination. Sensorimotor activity, i.e. the interplay between stimulus reception and stimulus response in the form of movement, plays a central role in this process.

If we follow the "bottom up" organization of our body, we can regulate ourselves better and we learn easier, faster, more effectively and more efficiently.

So lifelong learning and personal development have much more to do with the body than with pure brain power. Would you have thought that?

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