Ready to Learn with Do and Learn

At Do and Learn, we advocate the importance of holistic development and learning as the starting point of reading!

To understand the concept of reading a person needs to understand the connection between learning and reading. It is important to understand that learning is a process that needs to be developed. For the process of learning, one needs to have the skills. Physical, emotional and cognitive development is the cornerstone of all learning. The Do and Learn methodology and program can be linked to many educational theories and research promoting development from the beginning and enhancing the experience of learning.

Theory of development of learning

Rudolf Steiner described the first stage of development (up to the age of 7, the age of the change of teeth) as being primarily reliant on the child’s physical organism. Steiner advocates holistic healthy child development and learning, preferring knowledge gained through personal experience, insight and accumulated understanding regarding child development (Steiner, 2000).

Jean Piaget’s theory in the 1940’s advocated that physical movement formed the basis for cognitive, social, and emotional development. Piaget’s theory suggested that problems in movement could be linked to delayed language development; and if sensory development is impaired, the development of intellect is interrupted and learning is delayed (Goddard, 2005).

Later Vygotsky’s theory of social constructivism (Vygotsky, 1978). A social constructivist perspective sees knowledge as actively constructed by individuals, groups and society and not simply transferred. The theoretical framework arises from the process of mediation, especially the key concepts of zone of proximal development (ZPD).

Research in the 20’th century is confirming the age-old views of the above theories and the Do and Learn methodology, Goddard (2005) states that learning can take place at any stage of development but quality learning is more effective if it takes place at the same time of Neurological ‘readiness’. Goddard, (2005) states that:” Learning is not just about reading, writing and math…. Learning begins in space… The years of optimum right hemisphere development are years when learning is still strongly linked to sensory-motor activity.”

Dr. Caroline Leaf (2018) describes learning as the creative reconceptualization of knowledge, the redesigning of memory controlled by active and dynamic self-regulation.

Goddard tree of knowledge

Where, how and when learning occurs:

The five-step learning process

Dr. Caroline Leaf (2018) created a five-step learning process defining learning as the process of thinking and building useful memory with understanding. Dr. Leaf advocates going beyond mindfulness into an effective knowledge-gaining process that increases and develop the information you receive in an effective way for whatever purpose you need it. Dr. Leaf states that we need to incorporate understanding and using mindset by activating our thinking, learning to build useful memory. Intense, targeted, deliberate mind training improves just about every aspect of our thinking, learning, intelligence and brain power (Dr. Leaf, 2018).

Importance of holistic learning and the power of Brain plasticity

Neuroplasticity involves the changes occurring in the brain as a result of thinking and lifestyle choices. It allows the mastering of simple skills and sports and allows us to train ourselves to be more positive. Neuroplasticity is the process of deliberate, intentional thinking changing intellectual, cognitive, emotional, social and academic performance.

Dr. Leaf’s (2018) research dating from the eighties led her to the development of the Five step learning process. The following figure illustrates the correlation between the Do and Learn methodology and dr. Leaf’s five step learning process.

Dr. Leaf Five Step Learning ProcessDo and Learn Methodology
Input: read, listen, watchUsing all sensory and motor systems
Reflect: ask, answer, discussRepetition, association, sound recognition, memory, sequence
Write: create the MetacognitiveVisual sound introduction cards, word building cards
Recheck: check for accuracyMemory games, matching games
Output: reteachRepetition, Workbooks

(Do and Learn Activities for educators and parent’s booklet included in Do and Learn reading package)

The implications of development and learning on reading

Taking in account the Goddard (2005) and Leaf (2018) perspectives on development and learning it would be highly irresponsible to ignore holistic development of the child promoting premature cognitive-intellectual development. Continuous research on effective development and quality learning promotes the perspective that intellectual development and learning is enhanced when both hemispheres are simultaneously stimulated.

Developmental SOS signals influencing learning and reading


Balance (Vestibular system) is the oldest sensory system believed to be 0.6 billion years old in comparison to hearing having evolved a mere 0.3 billion years. Balance facilitate orientation and postural behavior (Goddard, 2005). Balance is the ability of the body to function within the force of gravity and knowing your position in space. Balance supports vision by giving stability to the image on the retina despite movement.

Signs indicating Balance barriers

  • Poor Muscle tone
  • Frequent falling & clumsiness frequently dropping or knocking things
  • Continuous accidents with children on playground
  • Avoidance and fear of movement or height’s
  • No fear of heights
  • Excessive spinning or rocking
  • Poorly developed sense of body image
  • Inability to mentally rotate or reverse objects in space

Developmental and Learning SOS signals include:

Developmental barriers

  • Motion sickness (Eye movement, avoid swings on playground)
  • Vertigo (Eye movement, writing from blackboard, scared of heights)
  • Poor sensory-integration
  • Perception of position
  • Spatial orientation (Left / Right, orientation, sense of direction)
  • Gravitational security (Clumsy behavior, continuous falling of chair)

Learning barriers

  • Dyslexia & Dyspraxia
  • Poor attention
  • Hyper or under active
  • Language impairments
  • Emotional challenges
  • Anxiety
  • Phobias
  • Panic disorders
  • Writing / reading (Left to right)
  • Reversals when reading and writing

Five-point Classroom test

  • Standing on one leg for 10 seconds altering from left to right
  • Standing on one leg while touching own nose and back
  • Walking heel to toe on straight 5-meter line
  • Drawing an infinity sign
  • Drawing image of self

Stimulation of both sides of the brain

Including sensory integration and involving the whole body with physical activity for each new concept or skill taught enhances high intensity-controlled learning. Controlled and well-planned input ensures high and quality output.

ActivityHemisphere involved
Tune in your learners’ ears for reading with simple songsRight brain
Encourage learners to repeat and say aloud well-known stories (not read) as you read themLeft brain
Develop physical games, chants, rhymes and songs to help memorize sequential informationRight brain
Play physical games to enhance spatial awarenessLeft and right brain
Using advanced apparatus encouraging balance and planning (trampoline, bouncing ball, wobble boards)Left and right brain


Intra-Uterine, primitive and postural reflexes are the signposts of development and supports the learner’s developmental stages from conception up to 3 ½ years of age. The reflex system is complex innate stereotype responses to specific stimuli to encourage specific development until the child develops voluntary control over specific functions. Reflexes are the primary teachers of basic motor skills. The more a child moves the better their control over movement becomes. Active reflexes may be the cause of certain developmental or learning barriers.

SOS signals of possible active reflexes:

  • Clumsiness
  • Fidgeting
  • Poor attention / concentration
  • Inability to sit still on chair
  • Poor muscle tone
  • Poor posture
  • Poor core stability
  • Tactile sensitivity / Tactile dormant
  • Behavior not age appropriate

There is always a reason for low performance or the inability to read with comprehension. Learning is an action developed through play and repetition. This makes the Do and Learn programme and methodology the ideal solution for all parents and educators.

AboutNicolette van den Heever

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