Written By Lara Gillease

A father brought me his four-year old son, Brian, who has cerebral palsy. Despite having had traditional therapy since he was an infant, he didn’t roll over, sit up, crawl, walk, or talk. At Brian’s first Anat Baniel Method (ABM) NeuroMovement Lesson, I observed him lying down. He just laid there passively – as though he didn’t know that he could move.

At his sixth lesson in a series of NeuroMovement Lessons, the father came in beaming, “My son is moving around the house, much happier and more alert.”

Brian had been rolling from his back to his belly and to his back again around the house going from room to room while laughing. The father then added, “I get this method now – it gets a child to THRIVE.”

What got Brian and helps other children who do ABM NeuroMovement Lessons begin to thrive?

Anat Baniel, both in her method and book, Kids Beyond Limits, describes a process that happens in the brain called the Learning Switch.

Obviously, there is no real switch in the brain. Rather, the Learning Switch is a metaphor for something real that happens in the brain of children when they are thriving.

Brain waves show that there is a measurable difference when the Learning Switch is turned on or not. So there are actual changes in their brain and how it is working.

The Learning Switch is more like a dimmer switch (which I would prefer in this case to call- a brightening switch). But like a dimmer switch, meaning it can be brighter (more effective learner) or less bright (less effective learner).

How can you tell when a child’s Learning Switch is on? 

Having the Learning Switch on means the child is in learning mode. He or she is curious, playful, having fun, interested, exploring, happy and engaged in what they are doing.

The child might do something a little different from how they did it before. You might see them do something completely new they have never done before.

A child with the Learning Switch on and burning brightly will have a lot of life force and vitality. Their eyes are bright.

They may become more vocal and expressive. Their true nature comes out. You’ll see their curiosity and interests emerge.

They become more aware of what is going on within themselves and their surroundings. Also they may express enthusiasm and passion.

A child seems to grow into their whole being. Their happiness, sense of humor and personality shine through.

What is going on within the inner experience of a child with the Learning Switch on? The child can feel their own potency. They notice when they do something as in, ‘Hey I just did that!’

You have experienced this before when you have put something together for first time and you get that light bulb ‘Aha’ moment. There can be this empowering feeling.

For a child who’s Learning Switch is on, it can be like having one ‘Aha’ moment after another.

Turning someone’s Learning Switch on is part of the process I do during ABM NeuroMovement Lessons. And I feel pure joy when I am with a child (or adult for that matter) when their Learning Switch is turned on and burning brightly.

How to recognize when it is not on? The child is bored, disinterested. They might not want to do much. Or they’ll tend to do the same things repetitively in the same way.

Here’s the really interesting part: If you want a child to learn to do new things and if their learning switch is off, it doesn’t matter what do you with them because they’re not going to be able to learn to do something new.

Knowing how to recognize when a child’s Learning Switch is turned on or not can help you understand what is going on in the inner experience of the child. And whether they are available to learn something new and take their skills to the next level.


Lara Gillease, President & Founder of Lara’s Integrative Movement since 2000, teaches adults and children new ways of learning and how to move with greater ease and freedom while relieving tension and stress in one-on-one sessions. She also offers an online, self-study movement program, Move Free. Additionally she is one of Anat Baniel’s  Trainers for teaching and certifying new Anat Baniel Method NeuroMovement Teachers and works alongside Anat Baniel and team at her world headquarters- The ABM NeuroMovement Center.


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