Jul 182014

Do you want to improve your child’s attention, executive functioning, processing speed, and working memory?

Processing Speed and Working Memory Training can help your child overcome cognitive issues at home.

Aside from the fact that research shows cognitive enhancement programs improve a child’s processing speed, attention, working memory, etc., helping your child at home brings good results because:

1) At home, your child can be given adequate time to process information and think at his or her own processing speed. Working with your child at home can eliminate interference with the memory storage process that takes longer in a child with learning disabilities.

2) You can implement Brain-Based Learning, Remediation, and Cognitive Enhancement programs that are designed to help kids with learning disabilities overcome some of their difficulties with maintaining attention, short-term memory, processing speed, planning, sequencing, and self-monitoring.

Diagnoses that often accompany cognitive function difficulties are ADHD, ADD, Dyslexia, and Executive Dysfunction (or executive functioning disorder). While these disabilities are more pervasive on a child’s ability to function, there are brain training programs that help a child improve functioning in attention, memory, speed, organization skills, planning, sequencing, etc.

The brain-based processing and working memory training programs are usually intense, but also afford noticeable results. Some programs are therapy-based requiring professional administration, and others can be used at home.

Cognitive Enhancement Programs:

The listing of these programs is not an endorsement for them, and they appear in no particular order.  The programs below may or may not meet your child’s needs, so please research your options before picking the best program for your child.

**IQ Mind Brain Memory Focus Concentration Improvement Smarter Success – Be Smarter, Improve Your IQ, Memory, Focus, Concentration, Study Skills, Creativity, Learn To Speed Read.

**BrainBuilder from Advanced Brain – Increases auditory and visual sequential processing capacities. Increases the number of pieces of information that you can sequentially receive, hold, process, use and recall in short-term working memory without straining or using mental “tricks.” As the pathways of the brain’s neural network proliferate and deepen, so will the ability to absorb and process information more quickly and easily. The minimum recommended age is 7, and there is a free trial available on the website. This is a “monthly fee” site.

**Brainware Safari – This site is specifically designed for children, and kids with learning disabilities will find this cognitive enhancement program among the most enjoyable of programs.  Brainware Safari works in 41 Cognitive Skills across 6 cognitive areas including attention, memory, reasoning, visual processing, sensory integration, and auditory processing. While BrainBuilder above is more appropriate for pre-teens and teens, Brainware Safari is a clear winner for younger children, although it can appeal to kids of any age.

**Lexia Learning’s CrossTrainer – “The Lexia Cross-Trainer Suite is designed to improve cognitive development in learners ages 7 to adult. The software helps learning disabled, special needs, and mainstream students strengthen their thinking, memory, and problem-solving abilities, improving performance across subjects as varied as reading, math, science, and social studies.” Click

**Audiblox – Program which is administered by the parent/provider, requires a commitment to consistent use, and helps with many EF issues.

**Earobics – Computer-based program that is easily used on a daily basis; game play format that children enjoy, increases cognitive skills, but is geared more towards children.

**LearningRx (Processing and Cognitive Enhancement) – The LearningRx is a program purchased through a tutor-provider relationship. It is expensive, but comes highly recommended.

**Brain Gym – Simple program to use at home; enhances learning. “Brain Gym is a program of physical movements that enhance learning and performance in ALL areas. Brain Gym includes 26 easy and enjoyable targeted activities that integrate body and mind to bring about rapid and often dramatic improvements in: concentration, memory, reading, writing, organizing, listening, physical coordination, and more.”

One means of developing your child’s memory skills is the Institute for Excellence in Writing’s “Developing Linguistic Patterns Through Poetry Memorization” – This program was sent to us for review and it appears to be fabulous for children with learning difficulties in many ways. The memory work will help strengthen memory and recall skills for children with memory deficits. The only way to strengthen memory skills is to practice them! The recitation component will also help children with speech articulation difficulties.

The main premise behind this program is to give children a ready source for varied and sophisticated usage of language skills in writing. If a child has word usage committed to memory, he can use that information when writing his own original works. Given the program’s format, you’ll find you can substitute any works of poetry in a similar process of memorization and recitation.  Whether using your own poems, or those provided with the program, “Developing Linguistic Patterns Through Poetry Memorization” seems like a great way to practice and improve memorization and recall.

One of the most widely used programs that includes working memory training is **Interactive Metronome, which is a professionally provided, therapy based program. The IM program provides a structured, goal-oriented process that challenges the patient to synchronize a range of hand and foot exercises to a precise computer-generated reference tone heard through headphones. The patient attempts to match the rhythmic beat with repetitive motor actions.

Over the course of the treatment, patients learn to: focus and attend for longer periods of time, increase physical endurance and stamina, filter out internal and external distractions, improve ability to monitor mental and physical actions as they are occurring, and progressively improve performance.” This program is administered by an IM provider with training.

A fun program you can use at home for working memory training, and one of the most FUN means of helping a child with concentration and timing, is **Dance, Dance Revolution Extreme 2 for the PlayStation2 with DancepadWorking Memory Training. This is actually a ‘game’, but it involves many of the same elements as other brain-based programs including concentration, planning, sequencing, timing, speed, etc. I believe this program will become a key player in remediation in the near future. Parents have begun using the program

Dance, Dance Revolution also comes in versions for the XBox and Gamecube, and there are many other Dance, Dance Revolution products available. DDR is a game “played” with a dance pad that registers footwork by the player. This game can help with concentration and timing, much like Interactive Metronome, because the play must take the dance steps in the specified order within a short timeframe. If the step is too early or too late, it doesn’t count.

The game can be played at different speeds, allowing a child to start out slowly and work progressively towards speed. DDR is a great concentration & timing game, and just like Interactive Metronome, patients learn to: “focus and attend for longer periods of time, increase physical endurance and stamina, filter out internal and external distractions, improve ability to monitor mental and physical actions as they are occurring, and progressively improve performance.” DDR allows an ADHD child to burn extra energy which also enhances concentration.

There are other cognitive enhancement programs designed to increase skills such as auditory processing, visual discrimination, processing speed, phonological awareness, planning, sequencing, attention to detail, etc. By increasing a child’s functioning in any cognitive skill area, his overall level of academic achievement can be enhanced.

These types of processing, attention, and working memory training programs are often overlooked in when developing an educational program, yet the gains made through these programs can create significant gains across all academic subjects. Some programs require more parent involvement, and some can be used by the child without significant adult assistance.

When selecting the most appropriate cognitive or working memory training program for your child, consider how much time and interaction you can commit. It helps to be realistic about how well you can work one-on-one with your child, how well your child works alone, and whether an outside provider will have an easier time gaining cooperation when working with your child.

To get the most out of the cognitive or working memory training program you choose, try to match the program to your child’s abilities and needs. There is no sense in purchasing a program your child can’t or won’t use.

Jun 182014

Does your child need Brain Gym exercises for left-brain, right-brain processing?

You may find Brain Gym exercises to be a good way help your child overcome coordination difficulties in particular.  Using Brain Gym exercises for breaks during your school day can lead to better focus. That will also help your child learn better.

Brain Gym is an effective and easy program to implement. The Brain Gym exercises are relatively easy. One exercise has your child make a large, sideways figure eight with his arm extended in front of his body.  Another exercise involves bending over, dangling the arms with clasped hands, and swinging the arms like an elephant’s trunk.  Since the brain gym exercises pictures in the books are copyrighted, I can’t provide them here. However, you can buy a book with the exercises pictured for a low cost on Amazon.

**Brain GymBrain Gym exercises is a type of exercise program designed to enhance learning. The Brain Gym exercises can be done one-at-a-time or in an exercise routine. These brain-based learning exercises can help your child with attention deficits, coordination issues, memory deficits, stamina, and other difficulties that affect learning.

The **Brain Gym Teacher’s Manual allows you to create a physical therapy types of routine targeted to your child’s deficit areas. The book has explanations about the the whys and how Brain Gym works. The book lists each type of exercise. It also tells what areas of functioning the exercise targets and has drawings of how to do the exercise. It also gives a recommended number of daily repetitions. The information categories for the book lists for each exercise are:

“Teaching Tips” – Ways you can increase the effectiveness of the exercise.

“Variations” – How the exercise that can be changed to enhance your child’s interest and lower boredom with the same old thing every day.

“Activates the brain for…” (crossing the midline, eye movements, spatial awareness, eye-hand coordination, short or long-term memory, saccadic eye movements, expressive speech, organization skills, attention/focus, etc.).

“Academic Skills” addressed by this exercise (spelling, writing, listening, reading, comprehension, following directions, memory, etc.).

Also included in the listings for each exercise is information about:

“Behavior and Postural Correlates” (coordination, breathing, stamina, increased energy, spatial awareness, hearing, vision, left/right awareness, body awareness, movement skills, etc.).

“Related Movements” – Other exercises that go well with this one, (which saves you time in putting together a routine to target a specific area).

and “History of the Movement” – tells about how this exercise was determined to help develop the skills being targeted. This section gives information about origin of the exercise and provides information on how it was first used.

When I set up my boy’s programs, I used the book to determine which exercises would be best for each son. Then I set up a routine using the exercises that son needed. In our household, the Brain Gym was used mostly as a tool for overcoming physical “awkwardness.” It was also used to help an ADHD mind focus on learning tasks long enough to complete them.

As with any physical therapy program, progress is slow. However, these days my ADHD child has NO problem focusing on a lesson long enough to get it done. My formerly physically uncoordinated child no longer has that problem.

How much of our progress is maturation vs. Brain Gym, I cannot say. However, I do know that having an exercise break between each lesson and doing one of the exercises does make schoolwork more fun. At a minimum it gets the oxygen flowing to the brain again. That makes for better thinking. 😉

For us, each child had a list of exercises. He would do one exercise on the list, work a lesson, do the next exercise on the list, work a lesson, and so on. Just getting up between lessons helps! In any case, you get a lot of bang for your buck in the one little book – The Brain Gym Teacher’s Manual.

For anyone who decides to use Brain Gym, here’s my own “Teaching Tip”: For each exercise you put in your child’s routine, copy that page of the book. Cut out the drawing of the exercise. Paste it on your child’s list of exercises. It is a great visual queue to remind your child what the exercise is, rather than just having the name of an exercise on a list. I made a poster with columns for each son. The name of each exercise was listed with it’s picture. That worked well. 😉

We used the Brain Gym Teacher’s Manual to enhance our at-home, brain-based learning. You can get other Brain Gym books also. I found our book, from Edu-Kinesthetics, Inc., to be complete in every way.

Other Cognitive Programs Recommended for Home Use are:

**Lexia Learning’s CrossTrainer – “The Lexia Cross-Trainer Suite is designed to improve cognitive development in learners ages 7 to adult. The software helps learning disabled, special needs, and mainstream students strengthen their thinking, memory, and problem-solving abilities. It works to improve performance across subjects as varied as reading, math, science, and social studies.”

**Audiblox – Program which is administered by the parent/provider. This program requires a commitment to consistent use and helps with many issues.

Earobics – Computer-based program that is easily used on a daily basis. The program has a game play format that children enjoy. Earobics increases cognitive skills, but is geared more towards children with auditory processing difficulties or dyslexia.

**PACE (Processing and Cognitive Enhancement) – Tutoring model; requires commitment to tutoring sessions and home exercises.

Aug 022013

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Q: How do you help your child if she has severe problems with memory and information recall? How can I teach my child how to memorize?


Our neuropsychologist recommended using a ‘self-regulating’ memory system. It has worked very well for teaching our child how to memorize facts.

Basically, you put the information (facts) to be remembered into a question/answer format on index cards.

You will write the question or problem on one side of the card. Then write the answer on the other side. In our case, we had a math problem on one side, and the answer on the other side. If you need math cards, you can buy ready-made math fact flash cards on Amazon for teaching your child how to memorize.

In this method, your child first looks at the question and tries to recall the answer. If she can’t remember the answer, she turns the card over, reads the answer, then puts the card at the back of the deck.

If your child can recall the answer, she lays the card aside in her “I know it” pile.

By starting with a few cards, the cards will cycle through fast enough that your child will eventually be able to remember some of what she JUST read.

As she eliminates fact cards, each review comes up more rapidly. Your child may be able to remember the answer with the shorter time between each visit to the card.

Eventually your child will have one card in her hand. She can read the question, then see the answer, then flip the card back over. Your child can read the question, then hopefully answer it because there will be virtually NO delay from just looking at the answer on the card.

This system worked extremely well for our child who also has memory deficits. The process taught him how to memorize facts and information.

By letting your child work through the cards himself.. HE can:

  1. take responsibility for his own learning.
  2. regulate how much time he gives himself to think of the answer.
  3. review if he doesn’t know the answer.
    Plus, as time goes on, your child will develop his own internal means of figuring out how to memorize things, which is the BIG key to long-term success.

In addition to drilling with flash cards, using special programs can be of great help.

Times Tales If your child needs to work on multiplication facts, the Times Tales program is a great program for visual learners or students who learn better through narratives (stories).  The program gives the child entertaining associations for each multiplication fact, which really helps the child remember and recall the facts. They have an informational video you can watch to determine if you think the program would be a good match for your child’s needs ~ Watch the Times Tales DVD 90 Second Introduction Video

A great option for drilling math facts on the computer is Reflex Math. Most kids really like the program and it is specifically designed to help children obtain mastery of and fluency with math facts.

For a fun app to help your child practice and improve short-term working memory skills, Memory Magic  is a game offered by Anusen.com.  This app helps a child develop better memory and observation skills.  The game is leveled, so a child is encouraged to work to the next level, which also adds more challenge to strengthen your child’s memory skills in progression, over time.

There are Memory training software.how to memorize and cognitive skills programs which can be used to help build your child’s memory skills over time.  Research shows that direct instruction provided in ADDITION to a computer-based practice program will bring about the best results when it comes to academic skills like reading, spelling, and math facts.

Using a drill program right before bed will produce the best learning progress.  Since brains keep processing during the early stages of sleep, whatever your child learns right before bed is most likely to continue to be processed.

I recommend using a program during the summer and winter holiday breaks from school if your child is in a traditional school. You can use such programs as part of your typical school day if you are homeschooling.

Hopefully this will help you teach your child how to memorize. 😉
It worked great for us!

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