The school day was over, but in a classroom tucked away at a far end of Rio Real Elementary School in Oxnard, CA, a group of 10 students were just getting started. Many of them were hovering around two rows of computers being set up with cables connected to a white box, strange-looking hand sensors and mats. At least, they were strange-looking to me. These kids, ages 7 and 8, were part of the Boys and Girls Club Hardy Brain Camp Training Program, and this was their last day of 20 training sessions. An animated little girl named Naveah greeted me and quickly launched into an explanation of what was going on.
"It’s like a game," Naveah told me. "You hear a sound and you clap and then it tells you how close you get." She’s talking about the Interactive Metronome computer program that generates a beat through a set of headphones. Users are connected to the computer with wires attached to hand sensors that capture the exact moment their hands clap to the beat. Floor mats are also wired to the program for another section that requires users to step to the beat.
Naveah’s friend Valeria says, "There are different screens. You could get a monkey or a tiger or a beach." Interactive Metronome provider Sherrie Hardy, who is on hand to oversee the project, explains that the screens have different images to show where students are in their training. The monkey and tiger screens are for pre-training. A rocket is for meeting a progress requirement like 1,000 beats. A beach is for 2,000 beats—the highest amount.
"The program works to remove processing blocks to help children become who they really are. It improves reading and math skills, motor control and coordination," Hardy says. It is a way for students struggling with school, and even children with learning disabilities like ADD/ADHD, dyslexia and autism, to become successful in the classroom. Instead of spending hundreds of hours in tutoring over a span of years, a brain timing program like the one Hardy Brain Camp provides permanently trains the brain to think faster and organize information more effectively.
Soon all the children in the room are standing at computers, wearing headphones and clapping in circular motions. It’s quite a sight to see. Naveah tells me she’s seen results of the program in her classes already. "I used to get in trouble for talking too much and not listening. Now it’s easier to pay attention." Hardy confirms that the children are aware of the difference in their brain performance. "Their behavior falls in line when they have better attention, too," she says. Now that the 20 sessions are over, they will be tested for improvement in concentration and decision-making skills. When the first group of 10 students finishes at the computers, another group of 10 takes their places.
While the results of their sessions are automatically logged into the computer program, the kids are required to also take a three-minute written test to gauge whether they can work in a room full of distractions. They circle pictures that are alike in a group and also have to write out all the times tables they know. Hardy says this is because times tables are what hold children back the most in math classes. Many of them have never written them out before.
The scores of the written tests along with the averaged scores from all 20 sessions on the computer will be measured against the children’s original scores from taking the same test eight weeks ago and their initial processing speed scores. These are hard proof of the progress they’ve made, but as another student named Daniel tells me, "I get all A’s now and I can hear the television when I’m two rooms away." That is how heighted his attention has become. The children are proud of their progress and even wear necklaces with all the tags they’ve earned for completing each progress requirement, from 500 to 2,000 beats.
Sherrie Hardy tells me that this was the first time they were able to train 10 kids at once. "We normally do two or three at a time, but the larger group is good because it builds camaraderie and group understanding." In the future they will begin training larger and larger groups. The principal of Rio Real wants all students in third, fourth and fifth grades to train, which is about 380 students. The first 40 will begin this month.
A training program that uses millisecond brain timing like Interactive Metronome can be an effective tool for helping children struggling to focus and children with learning disabilities become independent learners. Visit Hardy Brain Training for more information. Interactive Metronome is also available for at-home use with IM-Home. To read more about Interactive Metronome, go here.
Written by: Lisa Di Trolio See other articles by Lisa Di Trolio
Read the article in specialneeds.com