I have always been interested in modalities which might assist a person to learn better. I find the idea that conditions like dyslexia or other learning disabilities can only be accommodated preposterous. I believe the brain is amazing and if you tap into the right pathway anything is possible. I love reading about research related to this concept. Recently I was given the opportunity to review A Life in Balance published by Learning Breakthrough Program. Available in paperback, it retails for $16.94.
Written, by his son, Eric Belgau, A Life in Balance is the story of how Frank Belgau spent years in the classroom researching, modifying, and perfecting methods to help children overcome learning disabilities and reach their potential. It is the story of a man who wouldn’t take no for an answer and despite many setbacks and lack of science and neurological degrees. It is also a manual on how to implement some of his discoveries in your home. These tools have helped children suffering from ADD, dyslexia, poor coordination, as well as those children who don’t seem to have any learning or other disabilities.
In the 1960s, children with learning disabilities were called minimally brain-injured and were not expected to learn much. Mr. Belgau, through his life experiences did not believe that these children were destined to sit at the desk with their heads down covered in paper so as not to distract the other students. He believed they had potential and it just needed to be unlocked. Starting in Frank Belgau’s early life, this story highlights transformational events which shaped his hypothesis and experiments. It also is a wonderful story of mentors and great teaching as well as not giving up when “failure” seems present. No matter what “failure” was presented, Mr. Belgau seemed to take it like Thomas Edison took his failed light bulbs. Nothing was a failure- all was a learning opportunity. Using the measuring stick of “immediate, observable improvement in reading” as the determination if a therapy worked or not, Mr. Belgau developed exercises, activities, and games which did work. Over time, he integrated ideas and help from medical, neurological, and educational professionals to arrive at what he calls his Learning Breakthrough System.
I found the book engaging and interesting. I loved to read about the different things that were tried, his logic as to why he chose new things, and how the experiments worked. It was fascinating to me to see how the right people seemed to be placed in Belgau’s path at the right times and how his program evolved. As I read, I began to think about the little kids I teach in karate. I started thinking about how various exercises we do in karate can help the children I teach learn better both in and out of the dojo. I also started thinking about how I can help my children, who don’t have learning disabilities, learn better. Thankfully, the last several chapters of the book outline several exercises so we can begin to use some of the tools that Mr. Belgau has discovered. These exercises include various body-in-space awareness drills. They don’t require a bunch of equipment and can be used right away.
This is a great book for anyone who works with children in any capacity. The brain is a marvelous wonder. New pathways can be established and everyone has potential just waiting to be realized. As I was reading this book, I was recommending it to various people asking about how to help their struggling children.