Thursday, 5 June 2014

A Life in Balance - TOS Review

 I was offered the chance to review A Life in Balance, it's the story of Frank Belgau and how, over time, he developed The Learning Breakthrough Program as an ADHD alternative treatment and a dyslexia treatment. 

I was very intrigued by this as the program claims to train your brain resulting in improved reading and concentration - all without the use of medication. I was keen to see how Frank was able to help so many children with various learning issues.

The book is 210 pages and is very engaging to read - it's the fascinating tale of both the man, his passion and his dedication to his life's work. 

It starts with the story behind Frank, who himself struggled with reading and didn’t excel at school even though his siblings were considered bright and great athletes. It discusses in depth how this effected his self-esteem and talks about his discovery that once he improved his physical/sporting abilities it coincided with him overcoming his learning issues. It follows his life through the military and into his time as a school teacher in the 1960's, which was the beginning of his career in special education and the decades long development of his unique Learning Breakthrough program. How he encouraged his students to focus and to learn even though others had written them off as incapable of learning and how he had to fight against the established order to bring benefits to those who needed them the most.

The second part of the book is an explanation of the tools used in the Learning Breakthrough Program. It discusses how he developed the balance board and how it evolved. How the combination of bat, bean bags, pendulum etc. work and he explains in an easy to understand way exactly how these tools and activities work to help students learn to control their bodies which creates connections in their brain resulting in improved learning skills.

The final section of the book deals with brain theories (how the brain develops, how learning occurs etc). It discusses some interesting research about how the program has helped senior citizens (including himself in later years) improve their ageing brains and increase their mental agility. It also explains how the program can benefit average or smart students as well.

At the end of the book there is a series of exercises called "The Space Walk" which he found to be very successful. It's a nice way to to assess your abilities and correct some of your own coordination/balance issues.

I honestly feel this book has benefits for everyone - not only is it an 
engaging read, an inspirational story of a great pioneer but it offers advice for anyone interested in brain training or having to deal with ADD/ADHD, autism, alzheimer's, sensory processing disorders, dyslexia etc. 

I loved that it provides some hands-on ways you can test these theories out on yourself and others. I can honestly say that after trying the 'space walk' with the girls I noticed a vast improvement in concentration levels and a definite progression in Tulip's abilities especially in her reading improvement. It has made me rethink how we learn and encouraged me to create time for more of these exercises.

A Life in Balance is available for $16.94

You can see what my crew mates thought over at the TOS Blog

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