Welcome to Moving Smart!

Helping parents and teachers understand the LEARNING benefits of all those wiggles & giggles!


Around its perimeter is a sunken, circular path even the weeds have learned to avoid. What would it take to scuff away the earth like that? How many feet? How many seasons? How many generations?

And where were they all going? 

In circles. 

Just in circles.

The other day, I took a ride on the well-loved merry-go-round in our neighborhood park, pondering the usefulness of going in circles. And it occurred to me there are different ways to ride a merry-go-round...

For some, the merry-go-round promises flight. You hang on tight as you slowly begin to turn, anticipating what's to come. Your heart races as you gather life speed and suddenly the world is a blur. You stand... you sit... you lean out... defying the centrifugal pull to center. You close your eyes to meet the wind head-on. 

You are dizzy with freedom... and you are merry.

For others, the merry-go-round is something else entirely. Going in circles is going nowhere. It's a matter of inefficiency and waste... lacking the necessary concept of "shortest distance." The swirl is out of focus, chaotic, nauseating, uncontrollable... something that needs to be stopped. But it never stops. It goes round, round, round. 

It is a rut with weeds.

Yet, for all of us, the merry-go-round promises discovery. As the cycle repeats, never changing direction nor diameter, our senses align to the closed circle we're in. We sense space by moving through it. We sense time by a familiar flash point on the horizon. We are aware of nuances around us made possible only through the perseverance of the circle. Revolution by revolution, we test what we're made of and transform our world view... refining and learning as we go.

It's the same ride for all, but how we live it is our choice. 

Children know this instinctively, living and learning in circles while the rest of the world endeavors to straighten the path for them. Parents call these milestones. Teachers call these outcomes. But a straight line, by its very physics, has a finish. Circles, like learning, have no end and real learning -- the stuff that sticks with you -- never takes the shortest route.

And, yes, the ride will make you dizzy.


Learn as you GO.

Live in the ROUND.


  1. I am inspired to go to the nearest playground as soon as school is out! Thanks for reminding me how fun it is to ride the merry-go-round. What good memories your post evokes!

  2. What a lovely post! No wonder the merry-go-round was my favorite!

    (I learned of your blog through the "Dr. Lynne Weighs In" paper.li newspaper. Glad to have found you!)

    Wendy @Kidlutions

  3. I did try a Merry Go round in the past year. Unfortunately ever since being pregnant I can't stomach most rides, but my SPIRIT was soaring and my memories were cascading in a blissful sense of peace at all those rides as a kid. I lived across the street from a park in my early years.

    Absolutely love the circle vs line metaphor!

    Elizabeth @MarriageKids

  4. Thanks for all the lovely comments! It's so great to hear everyone remembering what it's like to be a child!

    Elizabeth -- Generally, adults have more difficulty with spinning than children. One of the reasons actually happens during puberty, when the viscosity of the fluid in the semi-circular canals of the inner ear thickens. The result is adults tend to get dizzy faster and have more difficulty restoring their balance. But more, as adults, we don't do the things regularly that stimulate the vestibular system (balance) as much as kids do -- things like spinning, rolling, and hanging upside down. In other words, adults are out of practice!

    To help with those feelings of dizziness or nausea, you might want to try adding a spinning routine to your workouts. But you must do this SLOWLY. If you have an office chair at home, try spinning three times in one direction, then in the other direction -- but importantly do this at a very slow speed -- approximately one revolution per 8 seconds. As your body gets used to it, you can increase the speed slightly. Build up to spinning in each direction for a full minute, once a day. Over time, this can help.

    For more information, you might want to read our blog: Developing Balance: The Spin Cycle.

    Let me know how it "turns" out!


  5. It's hard to find a merry-go-round anymore! I can't figure out why they've been removed from so many parks - is it accidents?

  6. Great post - makes one think about perceptions!