I love this visual created by Mary Sue Williams and Sherry Shellenberger, both Occupational Therapists form my home town and creators of the Alert Program! This powerful visual demonstrates how so many things have to fall into place in order for academic learning to occur successfully. Notice how the central nervous system and sensory systems are holding up the entire pyramid. They are followed by very basic developmental motor milestones that you begin to see develop in infancy but are still very much being refined in elementary and even middle school especially by kiddos who are experiencing lower academic achievement. It’s not a sophisticated science but very often I can foresee with good accuracy who is struggling academically by walking into a PE class and noting who cannot yet do jumping jacks. It's not that being able to do jumping jacks equal academic success, it’s that this is a skill that on the surface appears so simple, but requires motor planning, awareness of two sides of the body, postural security, body scheme and integrated reflexes. It is these blocks that are needed to move up the pyramid to eventually reach academic learning. If your child or a student in your class is struggling to master academic tasks, take a peek at this pyramid and ask yourself if there could be a block missing somewhere causing the entire pyramid to shift. There are modifications, adaptations, remediation and coping strategies that can be taught or utilized to help a kiddo who may not be able to master each block of the pyramid. It is very important to note that the sensory systems are the base of the entire pyramid and that academic learning is the smallest layer at the top. To parents and educators, academic learning is often the number one priority but the nervous system disagrees and needs to be able to regulate sensory input before anything else becomes possible. If you feel your child is having difficulty with any part of this pyramid an occupational therapy evaluation may be helpful to best determine how to help your child overcome any potential obstacles and enjoy and live their best life.