However, and this is a big however, the Learning Breakthough Programme itself is almost unusable because of the very poor writing and layout of the booklets. Pages and pages of dense text explaining how to set up and perform the tests and exercises with not one single illustration to help. The copyright on the booklets states 1982 and the booklets very much have the feel of that time before the desktop publication revolution. The text reads like its written by academics for academics and whilst it is nice not have your intelligence insulted it does mean that reading the books are hard work and not that accessible to the average joe.
I struggle to recommend this product unless you cannot afford or are too distant to attend one of the commercial dyslexia treatment centres and are willing to put in a fair effort getting to grips with the booklets
Recently Nationwide Health Solutions, who are now the European distributors for Learning, got in touch and asked if I would like to review the new, updated Learning Breakthrough Programme. ‘Of course’ I said and within a few days the programme booklet and DVD arrived through my letterbox.
So, has it improved?
Yes though the booklet isn’t perfect. The reproduction quality and typesetting have greatly improved but there are still no illustrations. However this drawback is more than compensated for by the inclusion of a DVD. It contains well produced, clear demonstrations of all the exercises and almost makes the booklet unnecessary.
|Belgau Balance Board|
The programme itself is designed to improve balance and hand / eye coordination. All the exercises are done on a Belgau Balance Board that, unlike normal wobble or balance boards, can be adjusted to make it easier or harder to use. The coordination exercises involve throwing and catching beanbags, hitting a swing pendulum, throwing balls at a target and similar tasks. The programme is designed to last twelve weeks with the user doing one of the ten sets of exercises twice each day. Each exercise set focuses on one activity like throwing and catching a bean bag with up to twenty variations. The whole set could take as long as fifteen to twenty minutes to complete. Doing the exercises twice a day, everyday for twelve weeks will be demanding for parents but it is only through hard work and persistence can cerebellum training be effective.
So does it work? Lots of research shows that learning difficulties are linked to balance and coordination issues and according to the one study done on specifically on Learning Breakthrough, it does have a notable effect. However it may not work for everyone (see The Log Jam Hypothesis).
The Learning Breakthrough system is often compared with the Dore Achievement Centre’s approach. Both focus on balance and hand / eye coordination as a way to improve reading and general academic performance. One obvious difference between the two is the price. The Dore system is ten times more expensive than the Learning Breakthrough but this isn’t a fair comparison. The Dore approach involves regular visits to a centre and customized exercise programs whereas the Learning Breakthrough programme you get a one-size-fits-all approach. Ultimately the comparison between the two systems is unfair on both as its like comparing custom made clothes to those brought off the peg. Which system suits you or your child will depend on the nature of the problems and your budget.
Overall this revised booklet and DVD are substantially better than the old versions and it makes it a lot more useable system. Learning Breakthrough is a viable way to train the cerebellum and help address learning difficulties.