How to Decide Which Brain Training Program is Right for Your Child


Introduction

One of the most popular questions that I am asked by both parents and professionals is "Which brain training program should I use?"  When you look at the top 2 programs on the market, BrainSkills and BrainWare Safari, it can be a bit overwhelming and confusing.  Upfront, I am letting you know that one of main benefits of working with a Certified Student Transformation Specialist (CSTS) is that the confusion is removed from the decision making process.  These highly qualified experts are able to guide you through the Student Transformation Program and answer any questions you may have about choosing a brain training program to work with your child yourself.  What follows is a discussion around the most popular questions I am asked about each of the program's effectiveness to improve learning – especially within Reading.

Which program should I use to improve Reading?

Both programs will improve a child's ability to read.  In order to give specific recommendations, I usually need to know what the parents really mean when they want to improve reading.  Are we talking Literacy (reading, writing, comprehension)?  In some cases, the parents are referring to only one specific issue whether it is reading, writing or comprehension.  Depending on the child's background, medical and education history, my recommendation on which program to use would be different. 

DECODING WORDS

For example, if a child is at least 6 years old and is struggling with sound-to-code, the ability to read new words and have a strategy to do so, then I would probably recommend BrainSkills.  The reason for this is based off of the full child's history, the child may have been surviving to date on visually memorizing/recalling whole words.  However, the child may now be at a level in school where memorizing will not work due to the vast amount of words required for his/her age group.

In this type of scenario, using research based approaches to support strengthening and development of phonological awareness, an intense exposure to sound to code of the English Language is recommended.  BrainSkills provides this by speaking a sound or complex sounds to your child and then your child must select the correct code or codes.  This exercise also strengthens auditory processing weaknesses. 

BrainSkills also offers an extension (in Beta) of the reading exercises for drilling for your child to equate to the full Master the Code program previously completed in person now online.  My online cognitive assessment will determine in which skills your child shows weakness and these results are factored in when making the recommendations. 

Children I worked with to target auditory and word attack skills have shown progress comparing pre and post measures.

SPELLING WORDS

In this type of scenario, you need to be specific and your CSTS will ask you the right questions to allow you to answer with the necessary information – don't worry!    You need to be clear if the spelling issue is due to a combination of sound-to-code issues and recall or just recall.  If your answer is a combination of both, then again, I would recommend BrainSkills to attack the sound-to-code and spelling issues.

However, if your child can read new words using phonological awareness strategies but spelling is very weak, then I would recommend BrainWare SafariBrainWare Safari is phenomenal when it comes to auditory/visual strengthening.   Since your child is weak in recalling how the word is spelled, it may very well be weak visual memory or processing.  My online cognitive assessment will determine in which skills your child shows weakness and these results are factored in when making the recommendations.

BrainWare Safari challenges your child in the most effective, yet fun approach to strengthening your child's ability to learn.  Almost, if not all of the exercises in the program, use a strong visual component paired with some auditory and rhythm (metronome) component.  Your child will strengthen visual memory and processing using this program.  In fact, the children I worked with to target visual skills have shown progress comparing pre and post measures.

AUDITORY PROCESSING

When a parent comes to me and states that their child has Auditory Processing Disorder per their Audiologist, I will ask for specifics in symptoms and behaviors.  Again, if sound-to-code weakness is being observed, then BrainSkills is recommended.  However, if the child reads and spells fine but may be processing slowly or needs directions repeated, then BrainWare Safari can be used because of its high auditory/visual component.  Any child that I worked with using BrainWare Safari will tell you not to be fooled by the program's presentation of a "Jungle Scene" as the games are quite challenging and very effective.  The deciding factor in this type of scenario is really which game you and your child are drawn to for ease of use, budget, protocols and overall ability to sustain interest.

If a parent comes to me and states Auditory Processing symptoms or behaviors but reading is fine, this is another option to use BrainWare Safari.  This program "speaks" to your child in almost every exercise requiring your child to attend, process, remember and recall while listening and following directions.  Your child plays a lot of fun games without realizing they are training the brain.  Again, the deciding factor in this type of scenario is really which game you and your child are drawn to for ease of use, budget, protocols and overall ability to sustain interest.

In Closing

Both programs, BrainSkills and BrainWare Safari do what they claim to do.  Both strengthen all of the necessary cognitive skills required to learn.  However, they do so using different presentation styles.  Also, depending on your child's challenges, one program over the other can be tailored to meet your child's specific needs.  I highly recommend that you work with a Certified Student Transformation Specialist to ensure you are providing your child with the most research-based, proven, resources for success.  Get started today by having your child take a non-academic, online cognitive assessment and then discuss the results with me so together we can help your child reach success in as little as 12 weeks.

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