School’s back and my lil’ Ms. JG is now officially a kid. She’s in Grade 1 which means she’s slowly transitioning from learning through play to serious schooling. Thinking about the subjects she has now, I feel a bit overwhelmed and worried if she can handle her school load. Tutoring has been something we’ve discussed since our kids started preschool. But both Mr. JG & I agree that as much as possible, we won’t take away the remaining hours after school for our kids to play or be active outside. We really want our kids to learn in school, to really listen to their teachers so that they can study on their own when they’re older and not depend or resort to tutoring. I learned though that we don’t have to resort tutor when we can help our kids train their brains.
So over summer, lil’ Ms. JG trained her brain by going to BrainFit for a month.
WHAT IS BRAINFIT?
BrainFit Studio is the leading provider of the most up-to-date neuro-scientific-based brain fitness training programs in Asia. It started in Singapore last 2001 and was founded by a team of therapists led by Ms. Cheryl Chia, current Director, who are all passionate about maximizing human potential and transforming lives. It has since expanded across Southeast Asia and has presence in several countries like Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Turkey, and the Philippines. BrainFit Studio Philippines opened its doors in 2011. It is spearheaded by a group of individuals who are experts in the fields of education and health care. Currently, BrainFit Studio Philippines has five centers – Greenhills, QC, Binondo, BGC and Davao.
WHAT IS BRAIN FITNESS?
Similar to physical fitness, which is our foundational body skills that influences our performance in sports, brain fitness is our foundational brain skills which influence learning and achievement in school, work and daily life. These brain pillars namely (i) attention (ii) visual (iii) auditory (iv) sensory-motor and (v) socio-emotions ultimately impact how we acquire new knowledge, retain information, apply learning, and perform to excellence.
Recent brain scan research has also shown that brain fitness is closely linked to our IQ and EQ. Intelligence does not reside in any one part of the brain but rather involves a network of interconnections among the critical brain areas namely attention and working memory, language, visual, and body perception. Therefore, when we build brain fitness in these pillars, we are actually strengthening the brain networks that make us more intelligent! Simply put, a fit brain means an intelligent brain.
HOW DOES BRAIN FITNESS TRAINING WORK?
BrainFit uses SMART protocol for brain fitness training, which is based on neuro-scientific findings.
“S” is for setting appropriate and achievable goals for the individual, as every brain is unique.
“M” is for measurement using a process called CognitiveMap. It involves two hour-long, one-on-one assessment using standardized tests which profile the individual’s brain in the five key areas of visual, auditory, sensory-motor, attention and memory and social-emotional.
“A” is for adaptation, which is to choose the correct brain fitness training program and level, based on the individual’s brain fitness profile. For successful brain fitness training, mental activities must be just right – not be too difficult or too easy for the individual.
“R” is for rewiring through focused practice. Neuro-scientific research tells us frequency and intensity has significant effect on brain fitness training outcomes. During a typical 50min training session at BrainFit Studio, a student may be engaged in up to 500-1000 repetitions of the cognitive tasks they are working on. Adequate frequency and intensity of training is vital for maximum results.
“T” is for transformation of the brain and the individual as one follows the SMART protocol. Typically, for an average student, we expect visible and enduring improvements in learning and performance after about 20 hours or ten weeks of brain fitness training. We expect our students to be able to learn better – focus longer, think faster and remember more. We conduct re-evaluations on all our students to measure their gains.
They have 5 different programs that address each of the Brain Pillars: Smart Moves for sensory-motor; Smart Vision for visual processing; Smart Listening for auditory processing, Smart Focus for attention and memory; and Smart EQ for socio-emotions.
Lil’ Ms. JG took the CognitiveMap™ to asses her brain profile which then determined what Smart program is recommended for her.
I snapped away photos of some of the training rooms of BrainFit in Greenhills shortly before we met with Teacher Apple, who explained to me lil’ Ms. JG’s CognitiveMap™ results.
- SMART Listening helps develop auditory and language processing skills. BrainFit Studio uses a scientifically proven program designed to improve attention, comprehension, and auditory memory. These use cute and colorful animations to make the experience more fun for the child.
- SMART Moves involves improving sensory-motor coordination. Exercises for this fitness program includes enhancing fine motor strength with the help of special putty, using a vibrating “Wiggle Pen” to improve control (and handwriting), and other activities that help your child achieve better balance, endurance, and so forth.
- SMART Vision is all about visual and spatial processing. Some exercises may challenge the child to process shapes, colors, and directions they read while performing physical activities like jumping on a trampoline as well as a series of hand-eye coordination exercises, drawing exercises, tangrams, and even specially designed computer programs and apps to develop this area of the brain. In a Singaporean study of the exam results of boys who took six months of SMART Vision training in 2001, schools reported a 25% increase in overall marks, a 35% improvement in English, 50% in mathematics, and 12% increase in foreign language skills.
- SMART Focus uses neuro-feedback technology also used by NASA and the US Air Force to monitor kids’ brains while they perform exercises to improve attention and memory. Don’t worry that your child will be hooked up to wires like something out of a sci-fi movie, though! This equipment looks more like a biker’s helmet, and it tracks the active parts of your child’s brain while he engages in specially designed programs that train his brain to focus better. Following SMART Focus training, a test group of kids showed an average improvement of 12% in attention and 14% in impulse control.
- SMART Emotions is all about EQ; it teaches social-emotional self-regulation to help kids handle their moods, learn to relax, and deal with various social situations. These are achieved through a workshop course designed with sessions for just the kids as well as ones with the kids and their parents. Through guided role-playing and other activities, children learn how to express and handle their emotions in efficient ways and deal with social situations that may not always be comfortable.
WHAT MAKES BRAINFIT DIFFERENT FROM OTHER ENHANCEMENT OR TUTORIAL PROGRAMS?
BrainFitness is fundamental requirement to a learning brain that will determine how effectively they will acquire, retain, and process knowledge.
Unlike enhancement programs that target on improving a specified skill and on imparting learning strategies (e.g. drawing; reading comprehension; speed reading; etc) or tutorial programs that provide assistance on scholastic subjects to enable learners to keep up with the academic track, our programs work on the foundational skills needed to accelerate the learning process be it in acquiring and mastering academic contents in school or learning a skill (e.g. dancing; swimming; etc). The focus is on developing and enhancing the 5 critical Brain Pillars so that they will have a more efficient, easier, and enjoyable learning experience. Only when the Brain Pillars are strong and efficient can the student benefit optimally from any enhancement or tutorial programs that they undergo. Our programs also build intelligence by strengthening the critical brain networks which scientists have found responsible for both general intelligence (IQ) and emotional intelligence (EQ).
Even before Teacher Apple discussed lil’ Ms. JG’s result, I had a feeling the recommended program would be Smart Listening. You see lil’ Ms. JG sometimes find it challenging to listen to instructions. She would oftentimes tune out and would only listen during the first few seconds to someone who’s talking before realizing she wasn’t able to fully concentrate, therefore unable to follow instructions properly. True enough, she was recommend to do Smart Listening to help her with her auditory. When I asked her what she did during each session, she said she would sit down in front of the computer and do exercises through listening. She finds it fun and easy that she always looks forward to her training.
Though one month isn’t enough to see a remarkable difference, I’ve seen a bit of improvement with lil’ Ms. JG. She’s been more attentive whenever I talk to her and would take her time to listen to what I say now more than ever. I like how the program is meant to train one’s brain which can help her do well not only in school but also in other aspects of her life.
If you’re interested for your child, you can call any of the BrainFit studios listed below to schedule a trial.
BrainFit program is recommended for kids aged 3 up to 18 years old. BrainFit Jr. is for kids aged 3-6 years old and BrainFit Smart Programs is for kids aged 7-18 years old.
3F 224 Ortigas Avenue, Greenhills, San Juan
Tel: 725-8500; 668-2719; 0917-5991992
Unit 7, 140 MayhaliqueSt corner Masangkay Street, Broadview Towers, Santa Cruz
Tel: 554-0381; 0917-7761689
412 NS Amoranto Street corner Speaker Perez, Barangay Maharlika, Quezon City
Tel: 216-4130; 0927-5593574; 0917-5732107
9th Avenue Preschool, M Level, ACTIVE FUN Building, 9th Avenue corner 28th Street, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig
Unit 3B Bajada Plaza, J.P. Laurel Avenue, Davao City