Fit Brains Learn Better (Part 1)
Posted by: Teacher ia | on August 22, 2013
Early this year I attended the fist Brain Fitness Conference organized by BrainFit Philippines. Because I registered, I received an update from BrainFit that they will be launching a book entitled “Fit Brains Learn Better! A Chronicle of 12 Years of Brain Fitness Training.” Interesting sounding book isn’t it? Why? First, I it was only less than a year that I became aware of the fact that there is a certain thing such as brain fitness. Second, finding out that brain fitness has been existent for more than a decade is quite overwhelming for me. Naturally, I am interested to read more about this topic.
My child who has ADHD took a COGMAP from BrainFit this month. Due to persistent rains this past two weeks, we haven’t had a meeting to discuss the results of the COGMAP yet. I am really anticipating hearing what the results of the standardized tests are. I promised the readers that I will post an objective account of our experience of taking the COGMAP here soon so watch out for that.
For now let’s talk about the science behind brain fitness. Are you ready?
To do this, I’d like to share information that was also passed to me by BrainFit explaining what they do in their assessment and programs. I have added my questions based from the information they gave me and answers which I think satisfied my query.
Why is a COGMAP needed or as you say in BrainFit “Why do you need to asses the child’s unique brain fitness profile?
Just like measuring how heavy a weight your arm muscles can lift before embarking on a physical training programme, measuring a student’s brain fitness level or cognitive skills helps us to understand the ‘mental weights’ the student should be lifting. It allows the trainer to determine the most optimal programme for the student to embark on based on his or her unique profile.
What is a CogMap?
CognitiveMAP™ is a proprietary process that BrainFit Studio uses to measure the brain fitness level of a student prior to brain fitness enhancement. Besides allowing us to identify areas for improvement, this analysis of one’s cognitive skills also enable us to exploit the key mental strengths for success and peak performance.
What does a CognitiveMAP™ evaluate?
CognitiveMAP™ evaluates a student’s cognitive skills in the 5 brain fitness systems of:
1) Visual processing
2) Auditory processing
3) Sensory-Motor processing
4) Attention and Memory
5) Social-Emotional functioning
These 5 systems are important because whether you are learning to play golf, play the piano or solve a Math problem, they form the foundation of our “engine for learning”.
For example, to be successful in the activities above, accurate listening (auditory brain fitness) to the coach’s instructions, the tune of music from the piano or the explanation from the teacher about the new Math concept is vital.
Our visual system (visual brain fitness) further supports our listening system as we watch the coach’s golf swing closely, look at the music scores line by line or study the Math diagrams the teacher has drawn on the blackboard.
Our emotional system (social-emotional brain fitness) keeps our anxiety at bay and our motivation high as we learn these tasks for the first time, so that our attention system (attention brain fitness) can work efficiently to keep us focused on the task at hand and our memory system can retain the information for future use.
Finally, we need our motor skills (sensory-motor brain fitness) to execute the new golf swing, manipulate our fingers swiftly on the keyboard to play the tune or control the pencil to copy the Math diagram accurately onto our workbook.
To understand the strengths and weaknesses of these 5 brain fitness systems means understanding the health of our “learning engine”
Is the COGMAP a standardised test?
At Brainfit Studio, we use internationally recognized standardized tests to evaluate our students’ brain fitness levels. We are all familiar with the idea of tests in school. A standardised test is another kind of test. It is used to measure a child’s ability in a particular area (in this instance brain fitness) compared to other children of the same age.
Standardised tests are universally conducted and scored in a consistent manner, allowing a wealth of statistical data to be collected. CognitiveMAP™ thus enables us to determine the “fitness level” of a student’s cognitive abilities by comparing his standardised tests scores against the data for his peers. We can then identify which of the 5 brain fitness systems require enhancement and craft a brain fitness programme that addresses this need.
What kind of program can I expect from BrainFit?
BrainFit offers brain training designed not only for individuals to succeed academically, but holistically. Coming from that context, BrainFit explains how they tackle an issue commonly faced by parents such as temper tantrums and inappropriate behaviour.
“Few people understand the reason behind temper tantrums and inappropriate responses of children. For some children, these fits are caused by their incompetence to identify what they feel and how to respond. Thus, a good way to start the program is to know oneself; participants learned how to identify positive and negative feelings and how situations contribute to these feelings. The students developed a sense of understanding and self-awareness. It is often said that knowing the problem is 50% of the solution; and so the next is to learn how to use these awareness and turn it into actions through expressing oneself appropriately. Through the program, the participants learned several relaxation techniques and thinking skills on dealing with stress. Finally, communication skills another thing that adds to children’s frustrations is their inability to communicate their needs and feelings to others. Through the program, the participants learned how to deal with family and friends better. At their last day, students were given a chance to apply the decision-making, communication, and coping skills they have learned to friend and family situations.
Parents’ participation, as mentioned in the beginning, plays an important role in the program. They were made aware of what their children have been going through and learning, to provide more opportunities for them to know their children more. They also learned the techniques used from the program, to take over the role of the emotions coach. After all, the two programs only lasted for a couple of sessions; the real challenge here is to provide continuous support and opportunities to apply the skills in their own lives.
That folks is Special Education Philippines’ preview about BrainFit’s COGMAP and its respective brain fitness programs. This September 2013, BrainFit Studio’s founder, Cheryl Chia will be launching a book entitled “Fit Brains Learn Better! A Chronicle of 12 Years of Brain Fitness Training” According to BrainFit Philippines, the book aims to inform the readers about what brain fitness is, its importance and how it can accelerate the capability of a child to learn. The book also aims to share different success stories from 6 different Asian countries where Brain Fitness Training Programs were introduced.
To contact BrainFit Studio here in the Philippines, you can get in touch with them at:
BrainFit telephone numbers: 725-8500, 0917-5991992 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
I haven’t received my copy but I am particularly interested with the quantitative data they can share about their programs. I hope they do and how does the Philippine number differ with the results from different countries.
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