Thursday, June 5, 2014

Book Review: A Life in Balance by Frank Belgau (TOS Review)

Learning Breakthrough Program Review

As a mom who has had two of her children benefit from brain training programs I am always interested in learning about the brain and alternative treatments that are available. I recently had the opportunity to read a new book by Frank Belgau the founder and developer of the Learning Breakthrough Program called A Life in Balance .

Learning Breakthrough Program Review
A Life in Balance starts at the beginning of Frank Belgau's life and his struggles as a child to learn to read. All of his siblings had good grades and excelled in learning, yet for Frank the letters just seemed to swirl around and he couldn't make sense of them. His dad reassured him that he wasn't dumb, and one summer he practiced and practiced his running skills and when he returned to school that fall he could read.

He goes on to tell about his experiences as a mechanic in the Air Force and the different people that touched his life during these years that set some life lesson in place that would influence him as he became a teacher. It was when he became a teacher that he discovered his passion to help children who struggled in learning. He set out on a path to help these children release the potential that was hidden inside them. He discovered that struggling learners could learn, but it looked different than how a normal child learned.

Every teaching position and job he had thereafter became a time of experimenting with different methods that would help a struggling learner.  Eventually he began to find different methods that showed he was on the right track until he found what created the Learning Breakthrough Program Tools which include:
  • The Balance Board
  • Visual Motor Control Stick
  • Pendulum ball
  • Target Stand and Pins
  • Bean Bags
  • Super Ball Toss Back
 Not only does this book tell Frank Belgau's story, but it also includes a lot of information about brain development and how many of the activities in the Learning Breakthrough Program help to promote brain functions that are used in reading, memory, and evaluation. He also shows how the brain works in the classroom. There are several activities are included that a parent can use with their child as they read the book.

As a parent who has had two children go through brain training programs A Life in Balance is a book that fascinated me right off. This story is intertwined with information about the brain and how it works, which instead of being too technical or over the head, makes it hard to put down. You feel the author's passion throughout the book.

Though I can't attribute any of the programs my children did to Frank Belgau's work, I do believe because of it and other's who have been willing to "break the mold" about how struggling learners learn, my children have benefited from them.

My oldest daughter struggled to learn to read, which really blew my mind since I just knew she wouldn't have a problem. After learning about an optometrist who offered Vision Therapy we had her tested and learned that her eyes weren't tracking properly. After 15 weeks of therapy my daughter could read! Yes, it was a miracle.

My oldest son has struggled from the beginning, and though I have never had an official diagnosis many of his symptoms seem to stem from issues with auditory processing. We invested in around 24 weeks of alternative treatment that included him doing using a pendulum ball, a stick similar to Visual Motor Control Stick, and bean bags. Though he didn't have as a dramatic result as my daughter there was a definite improvement. I have seriously looked at the Learning Breakthrough Program to see if some of the things offered that my son didn't do the first time would be a benefit to him now. We'll see.

I highly recommend A Life in Balance for all parents and especially for the parent who is at their wit's end trying to help their child who is struggling to learn. It is available in paperback for $16.94. Trust me--this is worth every penny!!

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