My Son Got Off to a Lucky Start In Kindergarten

My son got off to a lucky start in kinder­garten — he had a teacher who ran his class­room to allow for plen­ty of (appro­pri­ate) phys­i­cal con­tact. Hugs and phys­i­cal play were impor­tant parts of the kinder­garten cur­ricu­lum.

Nowa­days, the pre­ma­ture intro­duc­tion of “aca­d­e­mics” – read­ing, writ­ing and arith­metic – is the rule. Par­ents are afraid that lit­tle John­ny and Saman­tha will fall behind if they’re not sit­ting at a desk “learn­ing” some­thing at age six.

Not only that.

Now, if a teacher gives a six year old a hug it’s like­ly to gen­er­ate a dis­ap­prov­ing glance and an admin­is­tra­tive write-up. For­tu­nate­ly, my son’s kinder­garten teacher was a vet­er­an. He’d entered the sys­tem in the ear­ly 1970’s, before the pen­du­lum of pub­lic sen­ti­ment shift­ed so strong­ly puri­tan­i­cal. By the time my son encoun­tered him he was a beloved senior teacher, beyond reproach.

Giv­en the anti-touch trend in our cul­ture, my career-long com­mit­ment to the use of touch in the heal­ing arts has nev­er been more need­ed.

This com­mit­ment was recent­ly rein­forced by the Neu­ro­science course I took at Prince­ton Uni­ver­si­ty on Motor Con­trol and Motor Learn­ing. We stud­ied the com­plex ways the brain orga­nizes our move­ments in response to the envi­ron­ment.

One of the themes my pro­fes­sor intro­duced was the con­cept of “embod­ied cog­ni­tion,” a (rel­a­tive­ly) recent aca­d­e­m­ic for­mu­la­tion of the mind-body inter­face.

The idea of embod­ied cog­ni­tion is that the brain isn’t sit­ting in a glass jar per­form­ing abstract cal­cu­la­tions. Its com­pu­ta­tions are based on the bod­i­ly input it receives. Our brain and move­ment sys­tem respond in an inte­grat­ed fash­ion as our sen­sa­tions and emo­tions shift.

As indi­vid­u­als, we’re swim­ming in a sea of tac­tile input. Plus we get con­stant feed­back from our mus­cles and joints. Deep­en­ing your move­ment and inter­per­son­al touch expe­ri­ence is what makes the brain work bet­ter.


Deepen Your Body of Knowledge

Touch in com­mu­ni­ca­tion and health

Pal­pa­tion — the for­got­ten tool of med­ical diag­no­sis





About Ronald Lavine, D.C.

Dr. Lavine has more than thirty five years' experience helping patients alleviate pain and restore health using diverse, scientifically-based manual therapy and therapeutic exercise and alignment methods. His website,, provides more information about his approach. Please contact him at or at 212-400-9663.
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