Rhythm and Reading

Did you know that rhythm and timing are related to reading, attention, and language skills? Let me explain how.

Rhythm of Life

First of all, everything in life has a rhythm. Nature’s daily rhythms guide all that we do — from the rising and setting of the sun to the changes of the seasons.  In addition to having these external rhythms and cycles, our bodies also have their own internal rhythms and cycles.  It is these rhythms that impact our very existence.  Our breath and heartbeat are constant reminders of life’s pulsing rhythm that moves within and around us.  Our body rhythms are called circadian rhythms, and they govern when we sleep, when we wake up, when we are active, and how much energy we have.  These circadian rhythms are as predictable as clockwork, which is why we are said to have an internal body-clock.

In and Out of Sync

When our rhythms are in sync, life flows easily — we have more energy and tend to view things more positively.  We are more socially connected and find life more satisfying.  But when they are out of sync, we can feel stressed and anxious.

Imagine this —

You are taking a new fitness dance class.  At first you are getting the steps and dancing on the beat, and everything feels good. Suddenly the beat gets faster. You can’t keep up and get completely off beat. You focus on your footwork, but you lose track of the arm movements.

Would you feel overwhelmed, stressed, frustrated, or maybe even angry?  How would you respond? Would you get silly to cover your embarrassment, because you knew you couldn’t do it? Or would you keep trying, but always with the feeling of being behind everyone else?

A few months ago, I attended a training for a new program, and it got me to thinking about my students who don’t seem to have a sense of their internal rhythm, let alone the external rhythm of life, and how it impacts them in every area of their lives.

At our school, we have a number of students who seem “out of sync.” They have no sense of time. They are almost always late for school. It takes them forever to unpack and get their things set up in the morning. Even after months of being school, they struggle to keep up with the rhythm of our school. Their poor timing impacts their motor skills, their handwriting is sloppy, and they often bump into others and things. They struggle to follow conversations. Their overall speech and reading fluency lack the rhythm that is expected. And it makes me worry for them.

How must it feel to experience these feelings everyday?  Are they frustrated or even angry?  Do they feel like giving up, or do they try but always feel they are behind everyone else?

Impact of Rhythm and Timing

I have been interested in the impact of rhythm and timing on reading and language skills for some time. Much of what we do includes the use of a metronome, which requires students to keep the beat as they complete an activity.  I have noticed that there are some students that just can’t seem to get that beat.  And while this might seem strange, there is a correlation in how these students progress compared to the students who can easily keep the beat.

Timing is the foundation of nearly everything we do. That sense of rhythm and timing begins when a baby is in utero and hears its own heartbeat. The sense of timing is crucial for coordination. When timing is automatic, we function better. When it is off, it impacts everything.  For example:

  • Behavior – in order to have self-control, the timing system must be operating normally. We have the time think about how to react, and then respond in a timely fashion.  If we are always running behind, we only have time to react and cannot think through the consequences.
  • Perception of Time – lack of awareness of our “bodyclock” influences our understanding of time.
  • Motor Skills – timing affects the body’s ability to coordinate timely body movements.  This affects every part of your daily activities from brushing your teeth, to eating, to getting dressed, to walking, to pouring a drink, to handwriting, etc.
  • Turn Taking/Communication – some students know when is the appropriate time to speak, while others have a tendency to “jump the gun” and interrupt when others are speaking.
  • Listening – the brain must process time-dependent information. If the timing is off, it affects how the brain perceives and responds to sounds, which can then impact how well a person can follow directions and comprehend what is heard.
  • Reading Comprehension – similar to listening, but with written words.
  • Word Retrieval – finding the words you want to say and then putting them together quickly.
  • Reading Fluency – language has a natural rhythm and flow to it. Being able to naturally find that rhythm increases your ability to read smoothly.

In the past 13 years of working with students with learning and attention challenges, we have found that improving timing and rhythm

  • Improves attention
  • Improves coordination
  • Improves mental alertness and overall mood
  • Increases the overall flow and understanding of speech and language

There have been a number of recent studies showing that the areas of the brain that are involved in motor planning and sequencing were activated while listening to rhythmic sound. Even more exciting, is a 2013 study by Professor Nina Kraus, PhD, and Adam Tierney, PhD, at the Northwestern University Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory showing that people who have a better sense of rhythm showed more consistent brain responses to speech than those with less rhythm. The researchers suggest that the findings could apply to reading, because hearing speech sounds and associating them with letters and words are crucial for kids learning to read.

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/got-rhythm-study-ties-ability-to-keep-beat-with-language-reading-skills/

We are thrilled to announce that we now offer a rhythm based listening program called inTime. We are seeing it have a major impact on all areas of our students’ lives.  It is one more “tool” in our “toolbox” that we have to have students who struggle.

If your child struggles with any of above mentioned issues, they may benefit from our services.  Call us today to find out how we can help.

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Summer Intensives

Does Your Student Struggle With School or Homework?
Next Year Can Be Dramatically Better!

Summer Intensives Program Will Make a BIG Difference For Your Family.

If your son or daughter is bright and struggles in school, there is a reason…and it’s NOT because they are lazy!

It’s because they are missing some skills. And it isn’t the obvious skills. It’s the underlying skills. Things like auditory processing, memory, attention, or any of dozens more.

In fact, about 30% of ALL students have either weak or missing underlying skills. We call those the “learning skills” because they make learning easy.

The effect on students and families can be devastating! Kids try really hard, but get accused of being lazy. Often schools say there is “nothing wrong.” Parents are baffled and tear their hair out trying to figure out the right things to do.

It can be miserable for the whole family.

The Bad News: Schools and tutoring DON’T actually fix those skills. They are focused on mastering curriculum. When you decide to hire a tutor, you are getting “more of the same.”

The GOOD News: Learning Skills can be FIXED…permanently, but only by using programs that are focused on training those skills. That means that, even though it is hard work, it’s not like school. Building underlying learning skills takes some very specific attention. But it can be done and it doesn’t have to be a “forever” process.

That’s why so many families decide to do an intensive session. And Summer is the perfect time because students aren’t trying to juggle homework in addition to working on skills.

If…

You have had enough. If you are at your “wit’s end.” If you just count the days until you don’t have to sit with your kid spending 4 hours to do 15 minutes worth of homework. If you’re tired of how your son or daughter feels about themselves. If you’re worried about their future…

Then it’s time to make a change.

There is only ONE Reason to spend the time and money to do an Intensive Program this summer – Because it will make a SIGNIFICANT difference in the life of your student and your family next school year.

There are 5 Things you need to have for a successful Summer program that will actually change the skills to a degree that you will feel the difference next year:

  1. Focus on the right skills – You can’t be working on regular schoolwork and expect the skills to change. You have to find out which skills are not working and “attack” them. That way, when school starts in the Fall, your student will have much better tools to allow him to learn more easily.
  2. Intensity – Training learning skills is a little like going to the gym. To make real progress, you must work with some intensity. Lifting a 5 lb. weight will NOT make you very much stronger. Lifting 50 lbs. will grow the muscle. The same is true of learning skills. The process literally will form new neuro-pathways in the brain so that the skills will be automatic and your student more independent.
  3. Repetition over Time – You can’t run a mile just once and expect it to have any lasting change. It takes repetition over a period of time. Summer sessions allow you to compress the time so that the skills are built faster.
  4. One to One – There is just no way to make the kind of growth you want to see when the clinician is splitting attention between your child and someone else. Sessions are delivered with one clinician and one student so that adjustments can be made continuously as skills are developed. That’s how to make the fastest growth possible.
  5. Sessions need to be fun – There is no way for this kind of intense program to work if kids aren’t having fun. Don’t misunderstand…no one would mistake sessions for a trip to Disneyland. Students work hard. But it’s the kind of work that they enjoy.  They see the progress they are making each hour. They can feel the new skills becoming automatic. Students that can’t sit still in class for more than 15 minutes find themselves fully engaged for 3 hours each day (yes, there are short breaks at the end of each hour).

And it makes next year much different than it would have been.

Here is a quick summary of Summer Intensive Sessions:

  • Choose between a 5 week or 10 week session.
  • Come 2-3 hours per day, 2-4 days per week.
  • It doesn’t take all day – Plan fun summer activities after sessions are over.
  • Doesn’t take all summer –there’s still plenty of time for family vacations and down time.
  • Savings…..special pricing for Summer Intensives
  • Make up to 20 weeks of progress in just 5 weeks.
  • Make a tremendous difference in your life…yes next year can (and should) be better! Stop the pain and frustration.
  • Summer is easier because you can focus on the learning skills when you aren’t trying to keep up with regular schoolwork…you’re not trying to do 2 things at once!

“Does that mean when the 6 weeks are over my child will have no more learning challenges?”

Each student is different. For some, that’s exactly what it means. But for most students, the answer is, “No.” There is usually more that needs to be done.

The Goal of a Summer Intensive is to make a big impact on next year. It is a huge start in the right direction. And it is a difference that will make your life and your child’s life better when school starts again in the Fall.

Please know this – If we don’t think we can make a huge difference, we will tell you!

Everything we do is designed to make permanent changes.

  • It’s time to stop living with learning problems.
  • It’s time to stop taking hours to do short homework assignments.
  • It’s time to stop trying to find ways around learning problems and start solving them.
  • It’s time for parents to stop feeling guilty.
  • It’s time for families to live without the strain and stress of learning issues.

Are you ready to get started?

Call us and let us help you change the lives of your child and your family. Next year really CAN be better.

Contact us today or see our Summer Program 2015 page for more information.

 

 

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