21st century parents are now embracing a whole new way of bringing up their children. It is no longer about “A is for apple, B is for boy”. Parents today are talking about right brain education, brain training, photographic memory, auditory recall, speed reading, intuitive math, etc. It is about providing every opportunity for your child to maximise his/her potential. It is about giving your child the best chance, not only of surviving, but of surviving at the top in this increasingly competitive world.
For parents who dream of doing that, the time is now. Today, children can benefit from early learning programmes and techniques that have developed as a result of research done by famous educators and researchers such as Dr Maria Montessori (the child’s absorbent mind), Colin Rose (Accelerated Learning) , Dr Roger Sperry (split-brain research) and Dr Professor Makoto Shichida (early brain stimulation) to name a few.
Tweedlewink, with centres in Bandar Damansara Perdana and Puchong, is a right brain early learning and enrichment programme that introduces a rich mental library of knowledge to children during the first few years of life when they are functioning primarily in the right brain state.
Said TweedleWink’s President Wennie Sun, “During this time, children can effortlessly absorb vast amounts of information. As such, we input knowledge in relevant learning areas such as math, science, phonics, vocabulary, reading, moral, foreign languages, world cultures, classical music, and art appreciation. We do this in an atmosphere of joy, love and laughter, thereby creating positive learning experiences that instill a lifelong love of learning in the child.”
Explaining why their method is called right brain education, Wennie said, “Because we deliver our techniques to the right brain first, and later to the left. However, our method is actually whole brain development. In the infant stage, we nurture the right brain with gentle, heart-based training. Later, in the toddler stage when the child’s brain has created a “bridge” (a band of nerve fibres called the corpus callosum) connecting the subconscious right brain to the more conscious left, a new level of learning occurs. We encourage whole brain development by linking right brain learning with the logical, methodical left brain.” TweedleWink’s weekly right brain classes are for children aged 6 months to 6 years.
Another proponent of brain training is BrainFit Studio in Mutiara Damansara, Petaling Jaya. BrainFit Studio aims to maximise human potential by improving learning capabilities, boosting performance, shaping behaviours, and increasing intelligence through high-quality evidence-based neuro-scientific cognitive training programmes.
BrainFit’s Managing Director Frena Tan says, “Scientists working on mapping human intelligence have discovered that intelligence does not reside in any one part of our brain. Instead, the brain architecture for both human general intelligence (IQ) and emotional intelligence (EQ) involves a network of interconnections among a few critical brain areas, namely attention and working memory, language, visual and body perception. When we build brain fitness in these areas, we are strengthening the brain networks that make us more intelligent.”
So what exactly is brain fitness? According to Frena, it is similar to physical fitness, which is the foundational body skills that influence our performance in sports. Brain fitness is our foundational brain skills that influence learning and achievement in school, work and daily life. Recent brain scan research has also shown that brain fitness is closely linked to our IQ and EQ. A fit brain means an intelligent brain!
Keeping to the comparison with physical fitness, Frena said, “Just like measuring how heavy a weight your arm muscles can lift before embarking on a physical training program, measuring a student’s brain fitness level or cognitive skills helps us to understand the ‘mental weights’ the student should be lifting. It allows the trainer to determine the most optimal programme for the student based on his or her unique profile. We use CognitiveMAP™, a proprietary process, to evaluate a student’s cognitive skills in the five brain fitness systems: visual processing, auditory processing, sensory-motor processing, attention and memory, and social-emotional functioning.” BrainFit’s programmes are for children aged 9 months to 16 years.
There is also a brain training centre that focuses on children with special needs. NeuroScience Program Specialist in Taman Tun Dr Ismail, Kuala Lumpur uses neurofeedback, a technique that trains the brain to manage and improve its ability to regulate bodily functions. At the centre, sensors are placed on the scalp and real-time display of electroencephalography (EEG) is used to measure specific brain patterns. Specific therapeutic exercises for the brain will be utilised while monitoring the person’s electrical activity generated by their brain cells or neurons.
NeuroScience’s Centre Manager William said that they engage the brain’s neuro-plasticity (its natural ability to change) to teach self-regulation to special needs children. The training is aimed at exercising the brain’s neurons to attain a healthy level of vitality and to build neuron connections that will lead to increased attention, learning and memory.
We have tried to present in this article a small cross-section of brain training programmes available in Malaysia. Never in the world’s history has there been so much research on how the brain works and it is likely that new and more targeted programmes will be designed not far from now. Even in this decade, more and more research is being done and the possibilities of what future findings may show are endless.