Category: Attention Skills

Who’s to Blame for a Bad Report Card?

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Report cards.

Seldom have two words caused such anxiety for both students and parents. For some, poor grades can reflect feelings of inadequacy (as a student or a parent), worries about being held back a grade, or fears of not getting into a good college.

Who’s to blame for learning struggles?

For parents, these feelings can manifest as blame: blaming their child, their child’s teacher, and/or themselves. And while many people assume that less-than-stellar grades are a reflection of poor teaching, lack of intelligence, student laziness, or poor parenting, these assumptions are almost always untrue.

The truth is that bad report cards are not a reflection of IQ. In fact, many struggling learners have higher-than-average IQ scores. IQ assessments measure an average of the combined strength of all our cognitive skills—the underlying tools we need to successfully focus, think, prioritize, plan, understand, visualize, remember, solve problems, and create useful association. These skills include things like attention, visual and auditory processing, memory, logic & reasoning, and processing speed.

It’s very common for a student to have an average or above-average IQ score and a learning problem at the same time. For example, a child who struggles with reading may have a severe deficiency in sound blending and phonemic awareness (two sub skills of auditory processing), and be well above average in other cognitive abilities. When you lump it all together, it’ll look like there’s no problem because the IQ score is average (or even above-average. In fact, that high score is masking what could be a serious problem.

What about genetics?

It’s not surprising that parents who struggled in school themselves often experience anxiety over their children’s report cards. Concerns may stem from parents’ hoping that their children get better grades than they did. Parents may also fear that they’ve somehow genetically passed on their learning struggles to their offspring.

Certainly, genetics can contribute to a small part of learning struggles (like some reading difficulties); but the majority of learning struggles are simply the result of weak cognitive skills. In a way that is good news, since weak cognitive skills can be targeted, trained, and strengthened. They are not “set in stone.”

So how do you strengthen weak cognitive skills?

Cognitive skills training (also known as “personal brain training”) incorporates immediate feedback, intensity and loading, among other features. The most effective brain training starts with a cognitive skills assessment to identify weak skills, then uses customized programs of fun, intense mental exercise to strengthen those weak skills.

Unlike tutoring, which is academics-based, brain training is skills-based. While tutoring can be effective when a student has fallen behind in specific subjects (such as history) due to an illness, injury, or family move, cognitive training targets the underlying skills needed to perform tasks (like reading) that make learning easier in any subject.

If your child is struggling in school, take the first step toward helping your child become a more confident learner by having his or her cognitive skills assessed. Cognitive testing usually takes an about an hour, and can pinpoint the weak skills that are making learning (and life!) harder than it needs to be. Click on the link below to find a LearningRx center near you and speak with someone about scheduling a cognitive assessment.

Why some tasks are easy for some, difficult for others

February 27 is National “No-Brainer” Day, created to celebrate “no-brainers:” concepts and tasks that are simple, easy and obvious to most people. But for people with learning struggles, tasks considered “no-brainers” for many others—reading, balancing a checkbook, managing time, staying organized or just paying attention for an extended period of time—can be painfully challenging.

LearningRx knows that tasks considered “no-brainers” for the average person can prove to be much more difficult for someone with one or more weak cognitive skills. For example:

https://media.learningrx.com/why-some-tasks-are-easy-for-some-difficult-for-others/

“This is Too Hard!” 5 ways to help a child with a learning disability

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It’s painful watching your child struggle in school, but there are things you can do to help. Find out how to turn “This is too hard!” to “I can do this!” with these 5 tips.

  1. Remind them that even very smart kids can have a learning disability; it’s not necessary an indication of intelligence. Explain that Albert Einstein had ADHD and Thomas Edison had dyslexia and look how brilliant they were!
  2. Enroll them in personal brain training. Most learning disabilities are due to weak cognitive skills. If weak cognitive skills are, indeed, causing your child to struggle, that’s actually good news because there is something you can do about it: weak skills can be strengthened. One-on-one brain training provides a way to strengthen the core skills the brain uses to think and perform. And because every brain training program is customized, even extremely smart kids can benefit from brain training. LearningRx brain trainers work with clients of all ages about five hours a week, for 12 to 32 weeks, depending on the program. Workout sessions are customized to meet the individual objectives—and strengthen weak skills—unique to each client. And because workouts consist of game-like mental exercises, clients of all ages typically enjoy the experience.
  3. Make decisions based on facts, not assumptions. Many parents mistakenly believe that learning disabilities, such as dyslexia, are a lifelong label, or that some kids are genetically destined to always be bad at math. These are myths that can keep parents from seeking out help.
  4.  Don’t give up! At LearningRx, we hear time and time again about parents who put their child in tutoring with little to no results. That’s because tutoring is a great solution when there is an identifiable, external reason that a student did not grasp classroom content the first time it was presented in class. Perhaps a child was sick or on vacation, or a relocation in the middle of the school year created a gap in curriculum. It’s also possible that something (like an extended illness or pregnancy) impacted the consistent delivery of material. The point is, when something has interfered with the delivery of content to your child, hiring a tutor to reteach that content makes sense. On the other hand, brain training does not reteach missed content, but instead exercises and strengthens the basic skills the brain uses to think, learn, and perform. In other words, brain training improves the way the brain grasps information the first time it is presented. So, if your child is struggling in more than one class, or struggling year after year, weak cognitive skills may be to blame. And if they are, brain training can strengthen those skills.
  5. Start with baby steps. You don’t need to figure everything out at once. Begin by taking one or two small actions to get the ball rolling. Talk to your child’s teacher about specific issues your child displays, such as speaking out of turn, difficulty staying organized or taking longer than most students to complete tests. Call your local LearningRx to schedule a cognitive skills assessment. The one-hour assessment will provide a detailed look at your child’s individual cognitive strengths and weaknesses, and will give you invaluable information you need in order to decide on the next best step to help your child.

Forget Fidget Spinners! (Yep! We Said It.)

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Check out our advice on holistic help for attention struggles.

You probably know that fidget spinners were originally designed to help kids with ADHD (specifically, the hyper part). But if you’re looking for other holistic help for your child or teen with attention struggles, read on. 

A growing number of research studies are revealing the impact that many of our choices have on how well we pay attention. Among these choices are what we eat, how we move, and even how we exercise our mental skills.

 

The impact of diet on ADHD

According to a study published in the international Journal of Attention Disorders, kids who eat a typical “Western” diet are twice as likely to have been diagnosed with ADHD by the age of 14. The study looked at the eating patterns of 1,800 adolescents, classifying diets into two categories: “Healthy” or “Western.”

A Western diet, as defined by the study, includes a lot of fast foods; sugary, fried, or processed foods; and high-fat dairy. A “healthy” eating pattern consists of a diet high in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and fish.

The results showed an association between being diagnosed with ADHD, and a diet high in dairy, sugar, fast food, fried foods, and processed foods.

Associate Professor Wendy Oddy, leader of Nutrition Studies at Perth’s Telethon Institute for Child Health Research where the study was conducted, suggests that “a Western dietary pattern may indicate the adolescent has a less optimal fatty acid profile, whereas a diet higher in omega-3 fatty acids is thought to hold benefits for mental health and optimal brain function.”

Other studies support the idea that diets rich in fatty acids can improve ADHD symptoms. For example, a report released by the University of Copenhagen reviewed the scientific literature on diet and ADHD. According to Dr. Kim Fleischer Michaelsen, who is heading the study, research shows that “fatty acids from fatty fish moderate the symptoms” of ADHD. She also said that the review indicated that elimination diets are also promising.

While experts agree that more research is needed on this topic, it makes sense that parents of kids with ADHD should opt for the healthiest dietary choices possible. The Amen Clinic has published a list of the 50 best foods for the brain. You can find the entire list here, but here is a sample:

Avocados
Bell peppers (yellow, green, red, and orange)
Chicken, skinless
Beets
Blackberries
Yams and sweet potatoes
Broccoli
Wild salmon
Cranberries
Kiwi
Almonds, raw
Oats
Tuna
Bananas
Turkey, skinless

And if you think that healthy cooking is time consuming, consider pulling out your crock pot. Preparing healthy dinners in a slow cooker is a great way to avoid all that cutting and slicing in the kitchen at the end of a long day. Try this recipe:

Slow Cooker Sweet Potato Chili

The impact of physical exercise on attention struggles

“Exercise turns on the attention system,” says John Ratey, M.D., as associate clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. When he talks about the “attention system,” he explains that he’s talking about the brain’s executive functions, including sequencing, working memory, prioritizing, inhibiting, and sustaining attention.

The author of the book Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain, Dr. Ratey says that, “On a practical level, [exercise] causes kids to be less impulsive, which makes them more primed to learn.”

He goes as far as to tell people to think “of exercise as medication,” adding, “For a very small handful of people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD ADD), it may actually be a replacement for stimulants, but for most, it’s complementary—something they should absolutely do, along with taking meds, to help increase attention and improve mood.”

Dr. Ratey specifically mentions taekwondo, ballet, and gymnastics as activities that give the attention system a good workout, although he said that even walking for half an hour, four times a week, will make a difference.

The impact of brain training on attention skills

One-on-one brain training is a form of cognitive training that pairs clients of all ages with their own personal brain trainers for intense mental workouts. A one-on-one brain training program at LearningRx, for example, consists of working face-to-face with a personal brain trainer about five hours a week. Programs typically run for 12 to 32 weeks, depending on the program.

LearningRx is the largest one-on-one brain training company, with 80 centers in the U.S. and an additional 40 global locations. And while LearningRx does not diagnose or treat ADHD, it does strengthen the brain’s foundational cognitive skills, including the skill of attention.

One study measured the attention performance of 5,416 children and adults who came to LearningRx having been diagnosed with ADHD. On average, these clients scored in the 42nd percentile in attention, indicating that their attention skills were below the skills of 58 percent of their peers.

After completing a LearningRx brain training program, the average performance in attention for these clients rose to the 66th percentile. In other words, after brain training, attention performance went from “below average” to “above average.”

If your child is struggling with attention, changes in diet, physical activity, and brain training can make a difference.

To learn more about brain training, contact a LearningRx Brain Training Center near you.

Why Smart Kids Fail

Even brilliant kids have
learning struggles—here’s why

It’s one of the great mysteries of childrearing: Your very smart kid’s intelligence isn’t reflected in his or her report card. How can such a brilliant brain bring home B’s? (Or C’s, or D’s, or worse?)

Most of the time, when kids struggle in school, it’s due to a cognitive weakness. This means that even a brilliant teen who has strong auditory processing, visual processing, memory, processing speed, and logic & reasoning can still struggle if his or her attention skills are weak, making it difficult to focus on the teacher or the task.

Here’s another example: If a child is really smart but struggles with slow processing speed, he or she will take longer than others to complete tests, take notes, and read and memorize information.

The first step to determining which brain skills are weak is to get a cognitive skills assessment. Once you know what skill or skills need to be strengthened, a personal brain trainer can customize a program for your child.

Need more convincing? Watch this video about Matthew, a child on the autism spectrum who surprised his family and teachers with the improvements he experienced after brain training.

You can also read the story of a mom who put three smart kids through LearningRx—and discover how they’re doing one year later:
About LearningRx
LearningRx, headquartered in Colorado Springs, Colorado, is the largest one-on-one brain training organization in the world. With 80 Centers in the U.S., and locations in 40 countries around the globe, LearningRx has helped more than 95,000 individuals and families sharpen their cognitive skills to help them think faster, learn easier, and perform better. Their on-site programs partner every client with a personal brain trainer to keep clients engaged, accountable, and on-task—a key advantage over online-only brain exercises. Their pioneering methods have been used in clinical settings for 35 years and have been verified as beneficial in peer-reviewed research papers and journals. To learn more about LearningRx research results, programs, and their 9.6 out of 10 client satisfaction rating visit http://www.learningrx.com/. To read testimonials from real clients visit www.learningrx-reviews.com.