As busy as these ladies are, they set a bit of time for us to talk about their inspiration for their book, ways we can use it as a family and in school, as well as suggestions on how we can all get our kids moving more. This is a great chat so grab your favorite beverage and your comfy chair and enjoy!
CHYNNA: Carol and Joye, I am so excited to have you both here on ‘The Gift’! For our readers who aren’t already aware of the amazing things you both have accomplished, would you each mind giving us a bit about your background?
CAROL and JOYE: Carol Kranowitz observed many “out-of-sync” preschoolers during her 25 years as a teacher at St. Columba’s Nursery School in Washington, DC. These children were uncomfortable or clumsy in such ordinary activities as walking across the playground, holding hands while playing circle games, or going through obstacle courses. To help these anxious children become more competent at work and play, Carol studied a common disability called Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). SPD is a neurological problem causing difficulty in interpreting and using sensory messages — such as sensations of touch, balance and movement — to function smoothly in daily life.
In the 1980s, Carol and a pediatric occupational therapist began screening preschoolers for SPD. They guided children with probable SPD into occupational therapy, the primary treatment for this disorder. They steered other children with perceptual motor problems (and possible SPD) into purposeful physical activities, best found at organizations such as Joye Newman’s Kids Moving Company. Joye and Carol met and have been buddies ever since.
In 1995, Carol earned her master’s degree in Education and Human Development at The George Washington University. She created a course of study about her special interest in sensory processing and turned her thesis into a book, The Out-of-Sync Child: Recognizing and Coping with Sensory Processing Disorder (Perigee), which was published in 1998 and revised in 2005. This reader-friendly book makes SPD understandable to parents and teachers. The sequel, The Out-of-Sync Child Has Fun: Activities for Kids with SPD (Perigee), was published in 2003 and revised in 2006. In her other books and DVDs and in national and international workshops, Carol explains to parents, educators, and other professionals how sensory issues play out and suggests enjoyable strategies for addressing them at home and school.
Carol is Editor-in-Chief of S.I. Focus magazine and a board member of SPD Foundation. Her website is www.out-of-sync-child.com.
Joye Newman is a perceptual motor therapist. Perceptual Motor Therapy (PMT) helps children, and also adults, to develop and enhance basic movement and learning abilities. In 1979, Joye, like Carol, earned her master’s degree in Education and Human Development from GWU, with a specialty in perceptual motor development. Integrating studies in behavioral optometry, occupational therapy, and psychology into her graduate work, she developed her unique method of PMT.
Shortly after receiving her degree, Joye founded and continues to direct a popular organization called Kids Moving Company (KMC). She began KMC because she was concerned that many kids were not encouraged to move — in fact, many kids were discouraged from moving — at home and school. She wanted to provide a place for children to move, play and think in a developmentally appropriate environment. At the studio, KMC offered fun and functional activities, birthday parties, and perceptual motor therapy to children with and without special needs. Recently, Joye closed the studio to focus on in-school programs, individual evaluations, and consultations with parents to help them understand how they can help their children become more confident and competent in everything they do.
Joye was a founding member and the original education chair of WISER (Washington Independent Services for Educational Resources), a co-founder of the Jewish Primary Day School of Washington, DC, and the Early Childhood Special Needs Consultant for the Board of Jewish Education. She lectures on school readiness, creative movement, and perceptual motor development, and she consults to area preschools, helping them develop and refine their movement programs. Her website is www.kidsmovingco.com.
CHYNNA: Fantastic! Thanks so much for sharing all of that. Joye, Can you explain Perceptual Motor Therapy (PMT) and how it helps children with SPD?
JOYE: First comes sensory processing, beginning in utero. A child whose sensory pathways — especially tactile, proprioceptive and vestibular pathways — are already established can use them as a foundation to develop perceptual-motor skills.
Perceptual motor skills develop sequentially. These include gross motor and visual motor, which should ideally develop in tandem. It is during the first five to six years of life that the most perceptual motor growth occurs. These skills, which are built upon one another, like a pyramid, include laterality, balance, midline crossing, spatial awareness. These skills are crucial for children to learn about and fully participate in the world around them.
Perceptual motor therapy usually involves identifying which of the “building blocks” of the pyramid are weak or missing, and then helping the child to fill them in. This involves designing activities that replicate those that should have developed earlier. Once these stepping stones are put into place, the child is able to function in the world with confidence and poise.
CHYNNA: Thanks for sharing that, Joye. I think the greater our understanding of the workings of all of our sensory systems, the more we can do for our kiddos! Carol, you discovered early on how important movement and purposeful physical activities are for all children. Can you explain why movement, interactive activities are so vital?
CAROL: Early motor development is vital in the physical, emotional, academic, and overall success of every child. When children play outside, climbing trees, jumping in puddles, and rolling down hills, they develop these essential sensory, perceptual, and visual skills:
Tactile processing is receiving sensations through skin and hair and responding to those sensations. A child whose brain accurately interprets tactile input is comfortable being touched by other people or objects.
Vestibular processing is taking in sensations about the pull of gravity through the inner ear and responding to these sensations. The child learns where her head is relative to the surface of the earth – whether she is upright, lying down, or falling.
CHYNNA: I completely agree, Carol. And I don’t think I fully understood the true importance until after I’d had my kids. Joye, please tell us all about Kids Moving Company.
JOYE: Kids Moving Company was founded in 1979 under the name of Tumble Tots. At that time, the majority of my PMT clients were seen after school, so my studio space was left empty during school hours. I decided to offer a few sensory-based movement classes, and after a year, we had so many classes that we had to find new and bigger space. For many years, Kids Moving Company offered studio classes, in-school programs, birthday parties, and individual perceptual motor therapy.
Several years ago, we closed the studio in order to concentrate on in-school programs, individual perceptual motor therapy, and parent/teacher education.
CAROL and JOYE: Parents need reassurance that they are raising their children to be competent, caring, successful people. Advice about good parenting comes from all directions. Some of it is confusing, some is contradictory, some produces parental guilt, and some requires anxious parents to invest considerable time, effort and money to make their children smart and happy. “Growing an In-Sync Child,” on the other hand, offers simple and non-controversial suggestions that every parent can understand and implement — morning, noon or night, at home or out and about.
The book includes the authors’ rationale for promoting more movement in every child’s day; guidelines for the easy-to-use “In-Sync” program; 60 fun and flexible In-Sync Activities; and, at the end, lists of activities that are particularly good for developing and enhancing kids’ sensory, perceptual, and visual skills, as well as activities for a particular time of day, space, or situation.
Here’s a quick quiz for parents to take to get them In Sync with what “Growing an In-Sync Child” is all about:
A Quick Quiz
Does your child...
☐ Move easily and effectively?
☐ Enjoy movement?
☐ Join in group games?
☐ Try new activities?
Does your child find it easy to ...
☐ Function in a classroom environment?
☐ Work well in groups?
☐ Make friends?
☐ Keep his personal space (cubby, desk, room, locker) organized?
☐ Get dressed?
Is your child...
☐ Emotionally secure?
☐ Easy to get along with?
☐ Comfortable in the world?
The In-Sync Program will help a child develop the skills needed to check all the boxes in the list above. If most of the boxes are already checked, a parent can use this program to enhance the child’s skills. This program of enjoyable, easily incorporated activities will give every child a head start and a leg up.
CHYNNA: Fantastic! How is this book different from “The Out-of-Sync Child Has Fun”?
CAROL and JOYE: The activities in “The Out-of-Sync Child Has Fun” are specifically designed to develop the sensory processing skills of children with SPD. Of course, all activities in this book are also fun for typically-developing children, so siblings and classmates can benefit, too.
The activities in “Growing an In-Sync Child” are designed to develop and enhance the sensory, perceptual, and visual skills of every child. The book is not a “special needs” book. Of course, all activities in this book are also fun for children with special needs! Fun for all! All can join in!
CHYNNA: I think our families need more books like this. Then we can all be active together! How can parents use this book at home? At school?
CAROL and JOYE: If parents ever sit on the floor with their children, or hold a child on their lap, or call the kids to supper, or give their kids baths, or tuck their kids into bed, or have a roll of masking tape or a flashlight in a kitchen drawer, or know how to count to 10, then they have just about every tool and skill they need to enjoy this program.
If parents drive or walk their children to school, or feel comfortable about suggesting an activity to the teacher that will allow kids to move in or near their chairs, or help out at recess or during lunch time, then they can use this book at school, as well.
“Growing an In-Sync Child” is geared for parents. One day, look for the teachers’ version!
CHYNNA: Can’t wait for the teachers’ version. You’ve both had many years of experience dealing with families and schools on the importance of getting kids moving more. From your perspective, what are THREE of THE most important things people need to know in accomplishing that goal?
CAROL and JOYE: (1) Motor development is sequential. Most children develop in the same sequence, but not necessarily at the same rate. LET THE CHILD STAY AT HIS OR HER LEVEL UNTIL HE OR SHE IS READY TO MOVE ON. Please don’t hurry the child.
(2) Movement is crucial, especially in the early years, to good sensory, perceptual, and visual motor development. Until all of these systems are functioning easily and well, a child should not be expected to hold a pencil, or learn to read.
(3) It is impossible to learn about a three-dimensional world (the world in which we live) by “working” in a two-dimensional world (computer and tv screens).
CHYNNA: Awesome points that I hope our readers take note of. Did either of you have any upcoming events we should know about?
CAROL and JOYE: We'll bePlease see www.in-sync-child.com for upcoming events, as well as our blog. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
CHYNNA: Great, thank you. I hope everyone seeks you out in those places to see the latest and greatest! Last question: What final pearls of wisdom would you like to share with our readers?
Every time you …
• Bounce your child on your knee
• Let your child walk in your shoes
• Put your child on the carpet and then the bedspread and then the grass
• Let your child roll down a hill
• Roll a ball to your child
• Toss a ball to your child
• Let your child get in and out of his car seat and stroller
• Let your child push his stroller and pull his wagon
• Let your child jump off the couch into a mound of pillows
• Let your child make her own bed
• Let your child bang on the floor with a wooden spoon
• Let your child feed himself and smear his face with food
• Let your child jump in a puddle
• Give your child a different sponge in the bathtub
• Roughhouse with your child
• Hug your child tightly
… you help your son or daughter take another step toward becoming an “In-Sync” child.
PediaStaff's Booth at the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) conference on April 15th!! Carol and Joye will be signing copies of their book from 11:00 to 5:30.