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Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The Learning Breakthrough Program...A TOS Crew Review




I recently had the opportunity to review A Life in Balance, by Eric Belgau, for the TOS Crew. This book is a 200-page paperback that is currently selling for $16.94.  A Life in Balance is put out by the Learning Breakthrough Program--a program that works to improve the cognitive, physical, and attentional difficulties of children with ADHD and dyslexia.

A Life in Balance is the story of Frank Belgau written by his son. Frank Belgau is the creator of the Learning Breakthrough Program--but more than that, he is a man who was determined to make a difference in the lives of children who have trouble learning in a "traditional" way--and he is a man who made the most of the opportunities he was given in order to do that.

Frank Belgau began his life feeling as if he were the "dumb kid" in a family of brilliant children. "I was like a bucket with a leak, and it didn’t matter how much water the teacher or I tried to pour into my head, it would just drain right back out again." (excerpt from the book)  

He didn't read. He couldn't focus on learning. He felt clumsy and uncoordinated. But during the summer between fourth and fifth grade, Frank was determined that he would get control of his clumsy, uncoordinated body once and for all. His determination paid off--a pattern that continued for most of his adult life--and he was much more physically capable when he went back to school in the fall.  But there was more.

When he went back to school that fall, Frank could read.

"Somehow, by getting control of my feet, I had organized what was out of sync in my brain, and the words that had swum on the page lined up in nice, neat rows and proclaimed their meaning to me. The school lessons, too, made sense, and I could remember them without difficulty. The leak in my bucket was sealed. The fuzz in my mind had cleared out. I was normal. Actually, I was better than normal. I was smart." (excerpt from the book)

This experience made a huge impact on young Frank, which he didn't fully recognize until much later. However, we see the echoes of it throughout the rest of the book. Frank becomes a teacher, and "accidentally" becomes a teacher of the educable mentally retarded. This is where the journey of the rest of his life begins.

A Life in Balance chronicles Frank's journey, through fascinating, sometimes humorous, and often touching stories of memorable people and events in his life--a life that seems somewhat dominated by the idea that somewhere, there was a way to help children learn--ALL children, especially those that were labeled as minimally brain injured--the "kind" way to refer to those children with learning disabilities in the 1960s.

Frank's journey finally culminates in his discovery of how balance and physical organization of our bodies affect our brains, and from that, he has developed the Learning Breakthrough Program. This program is hinted at throughout the book, and many of the components of the program are listed and explained. However, to fully implement the program, you will need to purchase it from the website.

Learning Breakthrough Program Review

As a mother and teacher of a child with sensory difficulties and learning problems, I initially had mixed feelings about this book. Our family has spent countless time and money on different doctors, therapies, diets, and medications to help our child, and I was leery that this book would be yet another "sounds amazing but will cost you tons of money to get the 'secret'" fad.

And then I read the book. I was impressed with Frank's dedication and single-mindedness. I was touched by the pride with which Eric tells his father's story. I was intrigued by what Frank learned about our brains, our neurological system, our eyesight, and our learning.

And I was pleasantly surprised.  Although there is definitely a component of the "you should buy our program" advertisement, there is a ton of information in the book that I have already implemented in our own home with my child.  For example, one of the most important pieces of the program is the Balance Board, and activities done on it.  As my husband is a physical therapist, we have access to a Balance Board of our very own, and we have started five day a week sessions on the board as a tool to help our daughter in her struggles.  There are also specific instructions on different activities that can be done to help determine if your child would benefit from some of the Learning Breakthrough  Program materials--and those activities can be done with materials you probably already have at home.

All in all, I enjoyed the book and the background on Mr. Frank Belgau, and have become a fan of his.  I am hoping that the "mini-sessions" that we have started completing at home will make learning easier for my child.  I may one day in the future consider purchasing the entire program, but I don't feel as if I absolutely have to right. this. minute.

I would recommend this book to any adult working with those "special" learners.  It's an inspiring and fairly easy read, although there is a bit of medical jargon that is a bit tough to get through.  Frank's story is a story worth reading.

To learn more about A Life in Balance and the Learning Breakthrough Program, go to these links:

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You can also check out what my Crewmates thought about the book here:

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