Classical Christian schools teach according to the stages of learning, recovering the tools of the Trivium, which are neglected in our current culture. But we also need to acknowledge that the stages of developmental growth are just as important. As we bring children into a school environment at a very young age—something never intended by our classical predecessors—we need to understand that those small bodies in grammar classrooms are still doing some major development. How do we expand our classical understanding to include the stages and tools of growth? How does the body work together with the brain to encourage learning? For example, the muscles of the eyes and the finesse of equilibrium give us the coordinated capacity to read across the page, and one study reported increased reading proficiency by 70% with the use of motor exercises. This presentation will introduce the systems of the body, how they develop, and how they are foundational to our children experiencing a rewarding education.
Athena Oden is the owner of Ready Bodies, Learning Minds and consults with public and private schools and non-profit organizations for children. She has presented at the local, state, national, and international level on topics dealing with the neurological and physiological development of the child in the classroom. As author of the book/curriculum Ready Bodies, Learning Minds: Cultivating the Whole Child (3rd edition, 2016) she hopes to help children and schools perform at their peak. She earned her degree in Physical Therapy from the University of Texas Medical Branch and has spent the past 40 years in pediatrics. She and her husband David classically trained their three children, were founding members of Gloria Deo Academy in Texas, and Athena currently serves on the GDA board. She has a passion for classical education, old musty books, and a good cup of tea.