Reading Problems? Try this.

Some children will struggle to read because their brains are not wired properly. It doesn’t matter how hard they try. It doesn’t matter how hard you try. It doesn’t matter if you have read them 76 books a day since the day they were conceived. It doesn’t matter if they have all the help in the world. They’re still not going to find it easy to read. They may never find pleasure in the written word. They may never do well at school. Or they might never meet their potential. And that’s a shame, because it might not need to be so.

Are you prepared to put in regular effort for one year?

Are you prepared to be strict, insist and follow through every day (ok most days, say 355 days) in a row?

Can you mange your child if they are having a tantrum?

If you haven’t answered yes to all the above questions, thanks for stopping by, see you next time. (And because I’m in *that* sort of a mood: check out some of my other posts – they might be useful.)

These exercises changed our lives, and it wasn’t easy to get our sons to do them. When children do these exercises they are wiring their brains. It’s hard work. They don’t like it. They get v-e-r-y tired and grumpy. Very. Tired. And. Grumpy.

The best age to do them is between four and 12 months, I know that’s only eight months, but if you do them when they’re babies you get two advantages: one – you only need to do them for eight months; two – it makes them tired…if you see what I mean. 😉 

Exercise One:

1. Ask child to lie on the ground on their back with their arms by their sides.

2. While lifting their right arm up straight and on to the ground beside their ear, bend their left knee into their tummy. Slowly. (Important it’s slow.)

3. Repeat with left arm and right knee. Slowly. When finished both sides count 1.

4. Repeat, until you have done 20 repetitions both sides.

5. If your child seriously can’t do this, help them by trying: tapping the correct arm and leg to lift; if they still have problems help them lift their limbs. Aim to have them do it themselves, eventually. Obviously, for a baby, you would do all the work.

6. After six months they hopefully can do this easily and you are starting to see some changes in co-ordination, behaviour and academic achievement. But you’re not finished.

Exercise Two

Still ask child to do the 20 repetitions on their back each day, but now add in:

1. Lie on front with arms by sides.


2. Keep right arm parallel to right leg and  lift it up straight, at the same time lift the left leg up straight from the hip. Keep the body straight, the Hare’s body is a bit twisted in this photo. Lift slowly.

3. Repeat using the left arm and the right leg. Slowly. Count 1.

4. Repeat, until you have done 20 repetitions both sides.

5. If your child seriously can’t do this, help them by trying: tapping the correct arm and leg to lift; if they still have problems help them lift them. Obviously, for a baby, you would do all the work, and you need to watch they aren’t suffocating. Please.

6. Do the first exercise for the year, the second for the second six months of the year, and if they get to the stage where they find them really easy, get them to do the first set standing up.

They must be done slowly. The children find them irritating to do until they have wired enough and then they become easier. It doesn’t matter if they crawled, the Hare had crawled for five solid months. Swimming lessons help.

We got these exercises from a marvellous chiropractor/educational kinesiologist who also straightened our Hare’s back and neck for him ( we had no idea it was out). The Hare now tells us his eyes are ‘flickering’ which means that his neck is out again. When his eyes are flickering he can’t copy from the board, and his behaviour deteriorates.

John, the chiropractor, reckons there is three or four children in every class who will have major problems because of this. I also think there are plenty of children who are doing OK, but not great in school because they are not wired properly.

So, what have you got to lose? See if your kids can do these easily for 20 repetitions, if not…well it’s up to you, for us it was a fairly unpleasant year.

(Should you find this article useful, Koha is accepted, $1 is fine. The button is under my blog-roll. :))


About Karyn @ kloppenmum

kloppenmum is me, Karyn Van Der Zwet, mother of three and ex-teacher. I'm part of a revolution in parenting, with the aim to raise mature (not sophisticated) and self-assured children. I also know some stuff about adults. I have also had articles printed in The Journal for The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (Children and Young People) and the US parenting magazine, Pathways to Family Wellness, as well I regularly write for World Moms Blog (named as one of the Forbes 100 most useful blogs for women 2012 &2013). You can follow me on facebook (kloppenmum) pinterest (Karyn at Kloppenmum) and twitter (@kloppenmum). I'm also vaguely on LinkedIn (Karyn Van Der Zwet). Thanks to Joe (Mr Hare) for taking the photo. Cheers, son: xxxx.
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29 Responses to Reading Problems? Try this.

  1. hakea says:

    I’ve seen these in the media, but haven’t met anyone yet who has tried it.

    Child development experts say that it’s really important for children to crawl, and they get older children to do some crawling. But as you say that wasn’t the problem for your son.

    Thanks for the reminder.

    • kloppenmum says:

      Yeah, the thing is parents, like us, think OK they crawled it’s enough, but it isn’t.
      Actually, when I took the photos I realised he’s lost a lot of his fluidity from when we did the exercises routinely. We’re going to start the Owl on them as he has school next year anyway (not that he has any problems we can see, but not taking any chances), so will get the Hare to do them again too. Lucky old Butterfly got them when he was a baby and is miles ahead on co-ordination type activities than the others…of course two big brothers to mimic as well.

      • hakea says:

        I’m thinking it would be easier with a baby.

        Do these exercises ‘fix’ clumsy kids? Might be a wiring problem? My eldest is very athletic but clumsy. Sounds odd but it’s true.

        I took him to an osteopath when he was a baby because he woke every hour through the night for the first 14 months, and never had sleeps through the day like ‘normal’ babies. He was wired for speed that kid. I thought his skull or body may have been ‘out’ due to birth trauma. Taking him to the osteopath didn’t seem to work. He just started sleeping through the night when he was 14 months old for seemingly no reason, not that I was complaining.

        He’s a brilliant reader, but you’ve got me thinking the exercises may assist in other areas? He is a bit on the hyper side.

        • kloppenmum says:

          Yes, I would think so, but don’t ask me to quote research or anything. That was one of the keys for us too, rather than the reading (Steiner and all). Hare swam like an unco-ordinated octopus and ran like his arms weren’t actually involved in the process at all, just coming along for the ride thanks. Hare went to the osteo too, and it helped at the time, but not as much as the chiropractor – he took x-rays, they were scary. See if he can do the exercises, and then you’ll know! Best of luck – it’s not fun if you do have to rewire.

  2. writewizard says:

    I’ve never heard anything like this before. Did those exercises actually help him with his reading? Is there a study or anything to back up the fact that this works? If so, that’s amazing. The schools need to be made aware of this kind of thing so when they see kids struggling in class they can at least make a suggestion to the parents that they give this a try. Of course other causes would need to be ruled out (hearing problems, etc.) but still. And actually it has great ramifications in other areas too. You’re actually rewiring the brain with these exercises, so in otherwords changing their natural brain hemisphere dominance….or at least strengthening the weaker side. Amazing.

    • kloppenmum says:

      Absolutely it works! It’s all about getting the hemispheres to communicate efficiently. I’m sure an Educational Kinesiologist could tell you more. (Google ?!!)
      Yes, I agree it has huge implications. I would love to see a team with a chiropractor and some helpers go around kindergartens, to every four year old and give them a year of these exercises – imagine that. What often happens is a child starts school, tries their hardest, can’t physically ‘do’ it or not to the same ability as their oral language skills suggest they should, and so gets labelled lazy. Then, it’s all down hill from there.

  3. Sarah C says:

    This reminds me of the brain gym (google it) activities that I do with my class as an energizer or prior to a writing task. We also do a “hook up” to calm down a relax. Many of the activities involve crossing over the midline which is said to help improve communication between the left and right sides of the brain.

    • kloppenmum says:

      Yes, it is like Brain Gym, and it does seem to have a similar affect. It’s the repitition over time that is so important to really fix the neural pathways, so doing the exercises in a classroom would be really beneficial, I think. Thanks for commenting. 🙂

  4. Interesting. I would not mind doing those if I had a desk job (or any job!). My coworkers might however.

  5. At first I wasn’t sure if I should keep reading your post : ) a years worth of tantrums – umm no thanks. lol

    This looks very similar to what we did with the girls when they were babies. “Itsy Bitsy Yoga” it was a life saver with Ella! We didn’t really do as much with Agatha, but she’s wired different. We don’t do it as much now, but we do still do certain poses to help calm down or focus. I’m not sure how they’d be if we didn’t do it as babies, but we started when each girls was a few days old it really is remarkable the way it helped with pretty much every area of life.

    It’s also our plan for helping the girls bond with baby when he or she arrives. Ella loved helping Agatha do the poses and I’m sure both girls will love helping our little dandelion do them as well.

  6. kloppenmum says:

    Yes, I’m wondering what other problems we’ve avoided doing these with the Butterfly as a baby – the others were very late to use the toilet for example, but he’s showing signs of awareness already. We will never know, of course, but I am watching closely.
    Don’t be worried about my blog! I’m just in the middle of another great debate with Nathan, it’s really making me focus on what I truly believe and why. Thanks for coming back, and commenting.

  7. May I make a friendly suggestion as a result of this (and other) dialogues? Increase your number of threaded comments. This is easily done: Dashboard – Settings – Discussion. Then up the number from the default 3 to at least 6 (mine’s at 8). No harm in higher numbers and is helpful to readers engaging in dialogues.

  8. I don’t merely challenge the norm. I hate the norm! Anarchy, yeah!!! lol

  9. kloppenmum says:

    Ohhhh, Ok.
    I’ll have to pay you course fees soon: how to run your blog without driving your visitors crazy! 😉

  10. kaet says:

    This sounds very interesting. DD is three months old, and we’ve had the Well-Baby clinic nurses on at us that she’s lopsided in her behaviour. Her paediatrician just gave us a referral to get her eyes checked out, since there’s family history there, before doing anything else, but I wonder if something like this might help too. You suggested this from four months – would there be a problem in starting earlier?

    • kloppenmum says:

      It might help, and I don’t think there is any problem starting earlier – though perhaps not do the ones on her tummy for a while…I try to err on the side of caution when I suggest things here, so if you are OK with trying it, it might be worth a go. Have you taken her to a chiropractor? Often there are ones who specialise in babies. Good luck with it all, and let me know how it goes for you.

      • kaet says:

        We’ve been thinking about trying a chiropractor, and should follow that up. I tried her on the ones lying on her back, and she loved it! She was giggling throughout, which is a good reason to do small doses regularly even if it did no other good at all.

        • kloppenmum says:

          Absolutely…giggling is great :).
          I wish I’d taken the Hare to the chiropractor earlier, it made such a difference to him in so many ways. Yet, to look at him you would have had no reason to think he was out of alignment.

  11. kaet says:

    Hm – my comment seems to have disappeared. In short, I was asking if three months would be too young to start, as it looks like the kind of thing that might encourage her to use both sides more equally, which is an issue now.

  12. We start at birth. there’s a book/class we use called itsy bitsy yoga – it modifies for development and it’s fabulous!

    We already use some poses with Cordelia and she’s a week old. Digestion improves, sleep improves, alert times are really alert etc.

    • kloppenmum says:

      Thanks for your input. We didn’t discover all these until the Butterfly was three months old, so it’s good to hear that they work well for younger ones too.

      • We (I) discovered this when shopping for a gift for a friend about a year before I ever got pregnant the first time. I kept it in the back of my mind and the second we were expecting I bought it. Since we bought the first book, we’ve also bought the toddler book adn taken classes. The classes are fun, but for actually doing the poses the books are a lifesaver.

        Plus the books give great ideas on making it fun for the littles – of course it is geared towards the newborn to 2 and the 2 to 5 yr age range.

        We don’t use it often with the big girls, but when we do, they are eager which is enough incentive to continue. With a baby the difference is so noticeable that missing a day results in poor sleep and gasiness.

        • kloppenmum says:

          Why aren’t we told these things?(Not by you personally, but in general) Like your post about the breastfeeding: why are there so many mothers who still do not have good information…We have been through all sorts of traumas with our older two, and it makes me wonder how much a simple set of exercises would have made things different for us all…It does make me wonder just how much wisdom has been lost through the years with witch-burnings, industrial revolution etc.

          • It doesn’t seem to matter what area of life a person talks about – vital knowledge has been lost, is being lost.

            IME a lot of the ‘lost’ information isn’t even lost, just withheld. Not always purposefully, but sometimes it is. A professional doesn’t get paid as much to teach a person to treat themselves – or to prevent complications. Other times it’s just easier not to teach – but to do it for the person.

            Even day too day life – how many children have no idea how to do their own laundry or boil an egg? What good does it do? Maybe save the parents a few hours over the course of eighteen years.

            The other problem, not saying this is your case, is some people just don’t want to learn. A mom I know has a fussy baby a couple weeks older than Cordelia – instead of looking into any of the suggestions I offered – including the poses – she decided to quit breastfeeding and switch to formula. It most likely won’t fix anything, might make things worse, but it takes less time and less effort.

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