The Value of Brain Training For Reading
May 14, 2015 by Geoff Nixon
When tutoring just isn’t enough to make a difference
When a child has auditory processing disorder or language processing disorder parents will very often get specialist help and try to address the underlying deficit or delay. However, when confronted with a reading difficulty, quite often teachers and parents will simply work around it, trying to remediate the symptoms and failing to address the underlying cause of the problem.
This is the value of brain training for reading. It opens up a new window to rewire learning in a way that is not possible with traditional teaching or tutoring.
Tutoring is often the first solution parents try
If a child is falling behind in subjects in large part because of reading difficulties, the parent often employs a maths tutor, an English tutor, a science tutor and so on, and before too long the child is exhausted and overwhelmed with all the extra sessions and expectations.
This ‘band aid’ solution can be initiated by parents when their child’s reading difficulties result in disappointing grades or homework takes too long. The logic is that as well as helping to improve test taking and grades and/or making homework less stressful, a tutor’s teaching and modelling of good study behavior might rub off on the student, i.e., the child might suddenly understand the text or process the information seemingly via osmosis.
But while tutoring might appear to be a way of addressing the symptoms, it is a treadmill that can last years, since it does not target the underlying reading difficulty.
Why might tutoring not work for children with reading difficulties?
Tutoring at its core definition is teaching or guiding a student through information, usually in a private setting. While tutors are often seen as the saving grace of parents, to tutor a student in a subject they are not succeeding in generally has the tutor repeating what was covered at school, except in a one-on-one situation.
This goes for reading instruction at home also. Tutors use the same teaching tools that are not working at school.
Without addressing the underlying cause of the learning or reading difficulty, the student will likely continue to miss the context of the information, and fail to improve their skills, all the while costing the parent financially, and potentially damaging the child’s self-esteem and relationship with learning.
Why brain training for reading is different
Reading is a complex skill. If a child is struggling with reading, in most cases it is because there are gaps in his pre-reading skills, i.e., cognitive skills such as language processing, working memory and focus, and language skills such as phonemic awareness and vocabulary.
No amount of tutoring will help develop these pre-reading skills. In contrast to tutoring, brain training can work on and improve cognitive skills — it capitalizes on the brain’s plasticity, its capacity to rewire itself.
In particular, brain training for reading works on those cognitive and language skills required specifically for reading, both decoding fluency and reading comprehension. If a child has difficulties with auditory or language processing, is simply unable to organize thoughts, or gets confused following directions and seems to have little ability to concentrate, they might benefit from a brain training program that has a reading focus.
For some children, one-to-one tutoring certainly meets a need, especially if they have missed key concepts in the curriculum due to absence or illness or if they require a little extra help with specific subjects, but if your child has a reading difficulty, brain training for reading might be more appropriate.