Smart Moves: Why Learning Is Not All in Your Head

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How is the body involved in learning from infancy right through adulthood? Physical activity is crucial. A neuroscientist explains why and gives simple physical exercises that can increase anyone's learning power immediately. It explores brain development, neurological effects of TV, nutrition, stress, and causes of the growing plague of learning disabilities.

Customer Reviews:

  • Never thought of it before.
    I'm a former teacher, current family lawyer, mother of a nine year old, and homeschooled last year. My daughter's current tutor recommended this book, and a lot of pieces are beginning to fall into place. Coordination, reluctance to ride a bike. I wish I'd had this book 10 years ago....more info
  • Great help for smart kids who aren't successful in school.
    This is an immensely helpful book for parents who have smart children who are lagging behind their peers in learning to read and write. Hannaford maintains that learning should incorporate the entire person -- including lots of movement. Her book offers an overview of what may be occuring neurologically, reassuring anecdotes, helpful excercises and, most importantly, the positive idea that since children learn in different ways and at different times, those who are teaching them must find the right way to teach them. Even children with visual or auditory processing problems can learn the appropriate material if that material is presented focussing on each child's strengths. This book is a good stepping stone for parents, leading them to seek the appropriate help (through the school and perhaps with a neurologist) for their children....more info
  • Perfect remedy for a sedentary generation!
    As many of the other reviews suggest, this book should be required reading for parents and educators. First of all, the explanations of the mechanics of the brain are very well presented for a lay audience--very easy to understand. The neuroscientific explanation then lays the groundwork for the thesis that Hannaford presents--that we need to consider the impact of the body and movement on the development of the brain. This book is a great step forward for holistic modes of education. Power Brain Kids...more info
  • New age pseudoscientific nonsense...
    ...the "thinking cap" exercise is my favorite -- there's a photo showing some young girl pulling her ear lobes down almost to her collar bone!...the accompanying text claims that such yanking on the ear lobes stimulates "energy sites" in a manner analogous to acupuncture and facilitates thinking...ouch!...I think I'll pass on that one!...and the "energy yawn"??...or the "calf pump"?? doubt there are reams of scientific research supporting such "techniques" for stimulating thought -- they're just not on this planet...personally, I think you should save your money and attend some of Ms. Hannaford's presentations at the "New Thought Center of Hawaii" where, over the years, she has presented such enlightening seminars as "The Cosmic Order of Sound" and "The Heartful Experience Sufi Dancing at night"...or maybe go out and buy some nice crystals and incense...but whatever you chose, don't waste money on this book.
    ...more info
  • Bloomington Right-brainer
    Carla Hannaford's book is a revelation. In this easy to read book (I found it hard not to put down!) she explains that simple movements/exercises greatly enhance learning and our capacity to learn. Using these techniques has effected my practice sessions, performances (I'm a pianist) and the way I deal with stress.

    As a result, I am more aware of the ways I internalize information and that full body and brain integration (left and right hemispheres)is KEY to unblocking hidden potential.

    This is priceless information and it can be found in this book!...more info

  • great way to understand the brain gym concept
    Starting with the science of why you do this and ending with the practicality, this book is understandable and very readable....more info
  • Here's the info on why we need to move to learn!
    Hi-- This info is essential for any teacher and great input for parents. I've personally known Carla for 15 years---and want to say that she truly knows her stuff! Carla explains how we learn in this book. She also gives solid research for why we need to move, speak, and express ourselves in order to learn. I recommend this book highly. If you get a chance to take one of Carla's workshops--don't miss the opportunity! Chris Brewer...more info
  • An essential book for understanding learning difficulties.
    This book contains research results, practical ways to help enhance learning, and an introduction to Brain Gym and its core exercises. As an occupational therapist I highlighted something on almost every page either as a reminder for me to consider the information in reference to my therapy sessions, or to discuss it with parents. The developmental information presented about when different areas of the brain mature and the practical implications of the maturation were very helpful for me....more info
  • Rejoice in a new edition!
    A revised and enlarged edition of this classic (1995) has just been published. Carla is always at the cutting-edge. Her insights have been confirmed by advances in neuro-sciences and all of the first edition are still valid. But it is good to have some additional new input from the past 10 years. I'll first select a few quotes as appetizer.
    Candace Pert, from Georgetown University, in her Introduction, admits that Carla "has also highlighted new research and insights which go beyond my 1999 book Molecules of Emotion... Learning is naturally a pleasurable experience and Carla Hannaford shows us how to return to that state as she explores the research, and ways and means of achieving the optimal learning environment."
    Carla in concluding her Preface: "It has been a wonderful experience to bring forward so much new research, which strongly supports our need as human beings to connect, love, laugh, play and share music with each other to make each moment the best learning experience possible. I invite and challenge you to partake of the new findings of science, and to explore simple ways to optimize our experience and that of our children, to live more complete, passionate, creative, satisfying lives."
    An important up-date is the heart-brain connection, more elaborated in her excellent book: Awakening the Child Heart: Handbook for Global Parenting. Other short, but significant up-date reports are interspersed throughout the book.
    There are more expansions in Chapters 11: The Vestibular System, and 12: Fight and Flight--The Stress Effect on Learning.
    Additional paragraphs on oxytocin and dopamine in relation to learning have been included. Those who don't mind being distracted by more neuro-chemistry, may find Why We Love and The Edge Effect also interesting.
    There are some changes and additional diagrams and photos. I'm glad that Carla's own artistic sketchings are all kept.
    This book is a "must" for every parent and educator. ...more info
  • This should be recommended reading for those considering a Waldorf education...
    I am on the Board of Trustees of a Waldorf school. Anyone interested in this educational philosophy should read this book. Dr. Hannaford makes her point clearly -- and based on data -- as to what needs to be considered in creating an optimal educational program for our children. I want to pass this book out to all parents who will consider sending their children to our school, as many of the optimal practices have already been in place in Waldorf education for 80+ years. Highly recommended!!...more info
  • Must read for teachers!
    Carla gives a simple, yet in-depth description of how the brain works and how we learn. She also talks about Brain-Gym (R), another topic worthy of looking into, especially for people with learning disabilities but also for helping anyone learn more effectively....more info
    Hannaford is the wise teacher who shows how the body and mind are connected and how certain moves and exercises can improve school performance and even attitude. This is an extremely valuable book for anybody who works with kids, and will open your eyes to the whole child, not just the child-as-student. VERY highly recommended. Should be required in every teacher preparation program in the country!...more info
  • Exceptional
    Books on education and/or how to overcome learning disabilities and hyper-active mental states are not hard to come by. But many do not provide proven, accessible no-cost methods for achieving immediate, verifiable results, such as one finds in this indispensable tome. There couldn't be an easier way to learn about and use the most innovative and useful concepts in education today, than reading this book. Through simple physical exercises (developed by Dr. Paul and Gail Dennison with a team of researchers), Ms. Hannaford, who is a neurophysiologist, proves that mental processes are accessed via physcial movements and can be significantly improved with little or no difficulty.

    I originally began using these exercises for myself as a professional violinist, to improve concentration, relaxation in performance and just general handling of stress on stage. It was so helpful I showed it to my adult amateur students and they learned new music far more rapidly than would be normal for their level of skill. Over the past 13 years I have taught these exercises to actors, musicians, doctors, teachers, writers, etc. in New York and have gotten consistent results. The best part of it is, each exercise takes only a few minutes or for some, a few seconds. They don't cost any money (unless you want to take a class or see a specialist) and I can do them backstage or in the bathroom or anywhere, really. It's terrific. If you're interested in brain development in children, especially babies, I also recommend "How to Teach Your Baby to be Physically Superb" by Glenn Doman. Enjoy!...more info

  • For Adults as well as Children!
    First, a little bit about the author. Carla Hannaford is a Ph.D. neurophysiologist and educator who was a professor of biology for twenty years. She is an internationally recognized consultant on education and is recognized for oustanding teaching of science by the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

    Smart Moves is not just for teachers or parents. It is for everyone! Anyone who has been labeled as hyperactive, with ADD, ADHD or dyslexia or anyone who wants to enhance

    their mental functions or make the learning process easier can benefit immensely from this book.

    Carla shows how Brain Gym, a system of physical movements and exercises to enhance brain functions, are based on scientifically established neurophysiological functions and how it can be used by both children and adults to both overcome learning difficulties and improve general brain functions related to learning, coordination, communication and physical performance.

    I have had personal experience with Brain Gym, since my wife has been a Brain Gym instructor for over five years. I have seen how it has helped both adults and children to enhance their learning skills, overcome learning difficulties and in general improve their mental functions. I therefore highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in improving their mental performance! It is well written, insightful, practical, interesting and most beneficial....more info

  • My copy is filled with high-lighting
    This book goes way beyond "Brain Gym" (itself a wonderful piece of work) - Dr. Hannaford goes into great detail about neural networks and how they play a part in awareness, emotion, learning, and of course survival. Although somewhat technical, this information lays solid ground for the later chapters. The information in this book has nicely complemented all of my work. Brian E. Walsh PhD, author, Unleashing Your Brilliance...more info
  • A Must Have for Teachers, Therapists and Wise Physical Trainers
    As a Z Health and Functional Movement Screen Performance Specialist, an RKC Kettlebell Instructor and a former Corporate Trainer; I have found this book invaluable... and I'm not even half way through it yet!

    I use a highlighter to mark areas that I find I will want to come back and reference and so far virtually every page is highlighted. Dr. Hannaford doesn't fill the pages with fluff, there is a lot of applicable education about the human nervous system, the different sensory systems of the body and how they all interact.

    By understanding how neural plasticity works we can determine how we CAN get people walking again, learning into their old age, make ourselves more coordinated and more intelligent, prevent Alzheimer's, eliminate ADD and many types of Autism.

    The human brain and nervous system is an amazing piece of equipment and Dr. Hannaford breaks it down into understandable chunks. She also provides real examples that both her and others have used to make amazing changes in both adults and children with ailments that were formerly thought of as irreversible and only treatable with drugs.

    Despite the cover which looks like a kids book (you will get it once you understand that physical play makes you smarter) this is a book written for the dedicated professional. The information would have helped me in my Corporate Training years but now as a strength & fitness trainer and someone who helps others get out of pain, it helps me even more so.

    Anyone who teaches languages, sports, or anything for that matter; or anyone who helps people get out of pain such as Chiropractors, PTs, etc. must get this book.

    Train Like An ATHLETE Not A Hamster!

    Brian Copeland, RKC, PFS info
  • A resource every teacher and parent should read!
    I read this book -- the first time -- when it was initially released in 1995, and I was overwhelmed by the validation it provided me. At that point, I'd been a children's movement specialist for 16 years and had been working tirelessly to help teachers and parents understand the importance of movement in the child's life and education. Carla Hannaford -- a neurophysiologist! -- was now backing me up!

    With today's increasing emphasis on standardized testing, Smart Moves becomes an even more important resource, as it details why the mind and body are NOT separate entities. I display this book at every presentation I make to parents and teachers!

    Rae Pica
    Author, Your Active Child...more info

  • Carla Hannaford has done an outstanding job!
    Smart Moves is a wonderful journey into a fascinating subject! It was recommended reading following reading Sensory Secrets: How to Jump-Start Learning in Children. My first introduction into the topic with Sensory Secrets made me want to read more and Ms. Hannaford did an excellent job of making the complex neurology understandable. (I like the drawings too.) Thank you for helping me to make my job in education very effective in the goals that I set for the students!...more info
  • A must have book for any parent or Occupational Therapist!!!
    This book gives an excellent description of waht is going on inside a child and it explains why play is so important to the development of a healthy child. It gives great exercises a parent can do to promote good sensory processing. Additionally, it is highly recommened by some of the top therapists in the country who work with sensory processing problems....more info
  • BrainGym Works!
    I've been doing BrainGym exercises for the last 8 months and have enjoyed a marked improvement in my general coordination, and my ability to focus and handle stress. Hanniford's book, while often too technical for my untrained mind, helped me to understand the "Why's" behind the method. As will all BrainGym-related books, however, "Smart Moves" could benefit from the talents of an astute editor and a proficient illustrator....more info


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