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  • Writer's pictureINPP

One in four children starting school in England and Wales aren't toilet-trained and many others struggle to listen and respond to basic instructions, a charity has warned. 5 News'

This week Channel 5 reported on a new initiative introducing "tummy time" exercises for children in reception to help build core strength to support sitting posture and coordination.

This initiative is not as new as it might seem. Nearly 30 years ago, INPP developed a developmental movement programme for use in schools, which took children back in time motorically to replicate movements that should have been made in the first year.*

From simple tummy exercises involving head lifts and turns, children replicated stages of movement development from the first year of life leading up to, and including, crawling on the tummy and creeping on hands and knees.

When this programme was publicised, it was treated by some academics as yet another "crack pot" idea. Writing about the programme in the Guardian more than 20 years ago, journalist Phil Revell reported on the use of the programme in a Birmingham school.

"Teacher-researcher Sarah Bertram did the exercises with an entire class, over a full year."

The results were independently analysed, assessed and validated by an expert in the field, with no connection with the school or to INPP.

"Her evaluation says that the results are "significant" and show a marked difference between the control group and the target group of children.

The exercise group made twice as much progress on a dyslexia test as the control group and

"the neurological tests revealed significant gains for the intervention group - with only normal progress for the other children, " reported Revell.

"Reading scores across the whole group have been less conclusive, but Sarah Bertram has seen "remarkable gains" for children who had identifiable special needs"*.

Since that time a growing body of evidence has amassed, which shows that immature neuromotor skills are linked to lower educational performance and that specific developmental movement programmes introduced into schools can make a significant difference not only to motor skills and strength but also to educational outcomes and behaviour.*

Despite this, there remains a Nelsonian "blind eye" attitude to the introduction of routine testing of children's neuromotor skills at the time of school entry and key stages in education and the introduction of physical intervention programmes.

Much can also be done in pre-school settings to help children become

 physically ready for the demands of the classroom.*


  • Assessing Neuromotor Readiness for Learning. The INPP Developmental Screening Test and School Intervention Programme. Wiley-Blackwell.

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