Kids learn math and reading in motion at unique center.


by KING Health Team

Posted on November 22, 2011 at 7:00 AM

Updated Tuesday, Nov 22 at 9:32 AM

Meet three mothers, all of them worried about their children's abilities to learn and keep up with peers in the classroom.

"He was coming home and saying he was stupid," said Amy Newton.

"He was not passing the state reading tests," confided Erica Toyama.

"He couldn't even write one complete sentence," said Michelle Wolbaum.

The reasons their kids were failing were different, autism, sensory deficit disorder, or just trouble focusing. Now they're all finding success at Imagination Learning Centerin Portland Oregon.

"Ready go," called out instructor Pam Davis. The kids were off, bouncing on exercise balls up to their lessons pasted on the wall in front of them.

"They can learn just as well as anyone else, just in a different way," Davis said.

The way she has developed for them uses movement and games.

"A lot of kids need to move to learn," she explained.

Davis, a longtime school teacher, researched the concept of teaching through motion when her own daughter suffered a brain injury as a child.

"The injury was in the left side of her brain. So I needed to think of some right brain activities to learn. That's where the game format came from, the movement kind of thing," Davis said.

As one child, Ryan, bounced his way through a reading lesson  his mother Erica Toyama explained why the approach has improved his reading.

"Ryan's a kinesthetic learner, which means he does a lot better when he's moving and touching and figuring all of that out," she said.

And at the Imagination Learning Center math is accomplished through a treasure hunt.

"We need to distribute the loot," Davis said as she dropped gold coins into sections on the floor.

The students use the game and props instead of pencils and paper to add the fractions.

"It gives them an idea of a tangible thing, counting the gold," Davis said.

The kids are able to take their new skills back to the classroom, knowing they don't have to be afraid of learning, even while sitting at a desk.

"They can play all these games that Pam plays with them. And they do learn. And they're very smart." said parent Michelle Wolbaum.

"He just needed that confidence boost, and someone who understood how he learned." said Amy Newton of her son.

They're breakthroughs that make Pam Davis proud to be head of her class.

"Extremely proud. A lot of them say, "I just never though I could do this," she said.

It's not just the kids who can learn through the movement program. The center holds workshops for parents and teachers too.