Monday, June 2, 2014

Schoolhouse Review Crew: Learning Breakthrough Program

I'd never heard of Learning Breakthrough Program when I was asked to review their book, A Life in Balance by Frank Belgau as told to Eric Belgau. But since I've always been fascinated by learning styles and how the brain works, I was more than happy to help them out, AND get to review something just for ME, instead of for the kids, since while the information in the book can be used to help children, as well as adults, learn better, the book is targeted at adults, or older teens.

If I understand it correctly, Learning Breakthrough Program is a program to train people to integrate auditory, visual, motor, tactile, balance, etc, to help their brains work better!  And the book, A Life in Balance tells the story of the program's founder, Frank Belgau.

I have to admit, at first, I was expecting the book to be more of a "how to" book for the program, and, with that assumption, I found it rambling . . . but once I realized it was more the story of Mr. Belgau's life and how he came to create the learning breakthrough program, I liked it better. It's definitely written in a "as told to" format, it felt as if I were sitting with Mr. Belgau, listening to him reminisce about his life, and it was a delightful conversation!

One of my favorite parts of the book was when he describes meeting his wife, you can just hear how much he adores her, it's awesome to hear that kind of love! It also shows how, from the time they met, the project and research that grew into the learning breakthrough program was one that both believed in and were dedicated to, that shared passion led to their shared lifework and what sounds like a strong, loving marriage.

Toe on Spot
Another truly amazing story is the story of the birth of his youngest daughter, Beth. His wife had sung Edelweiss to her inside the womb, throughout the pregnancy, and after a difficult delivery, his wife began to sing Edelweiss to newly born, Beth. Not only did Beth open her eyes in response to the song, but began moving her arms, conductor-like, in time to the music. What an amazing testimony of how much babies are learning even before they are born, and how all pieces of the brain work together.

While most of the book is the story of what led Mr. Belgau to develop the learning breakthrough program, and the various aspects of it that he discovered along the way,  the book does describe some of the exercises and activities that Mr. Belgau developed. In my non-technical language, these are physical activities, such as tossing a beanbag or various walking/running/hopping activities that help to "line up" the various parts of the brain to help children, and people of all ages, remember things, and understand concepts to learn better.

Marching Backwards
Mr. Belgau originally discovered these correlations, and developed the program to help children who had learning challenges that the school systems at the time didn't have tools to address. However, the program can also help all children concentrate better and has been found to be beneficial for older people who are beginning to experience difficulties remembering things. It can also help with vision issues in people of all ages.

After reading the book, I decided to set up a "Space Walk" course on our driveway, using sidewalk chalk, and see how the girls did with it. In addition to helping children who are struggling, seeing how easily a child is able to perform the activities in the "Space Walk" can be an indicator of how well they are able to learn and remember.

Since all 3 of my girls have picked up new concepts quickly in all areas of learning, I wasn't surprised to find that even Little Bit was able to easily complete the various activities in the "Space Walk". Ashlyn did, opt out partway through because she'd twisted her ankle a day or 2 ago, and all the hopping and such was bothering it.

Walk a line heel-to-toe
In addition to being a fun "obstacle course" type activity, we also talked about this being a good way to "reset" their brains if they're having trouble concentrating on a subject in school.  Also, since Ashlyn is an extremely auditory learner, she sometimes struggles to "pay attention" when she's reading to herself. I suggested that she try some of these activities, or other, similar ones, before her independent reading time and see if it helps.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the "story" of this book, and find the concepts fascinating and something every homeschool parent, or educator should be aware of and at least consider incorporating into their teaching and learning!

You can purchase A Life in Balance for $16.94.

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