Archive for the ‘parent feedback’ Category

Be Amazing Learning client featured on ABC News

June 17, 2011

Be Amazing Learning client Sami Merit was featured on San Francisco Bay Area ABC 7 News, as part of a story that looked at Fast ForWord use at home and at an Oakland elementary school.

Hooray Sami!

Questionnaire can help with early identification of autism

May 5, 2011

A growing body of research suggests that early intervention is important for helping children with autism spectrum disorders. But early identification, which is critical for early intervention, has been somewhat elusive.

A new questionnaire, designed to be completed by parents in the pediatrician’s office during the one-year-old well-baby checkup, may help. Researchers from the University of California at San Diego had pediatricians distribute the 24-question survey to parents of 10,479 babies. The test identified 1,371 babies as potentially having autism or other developmental delay. The researchers tracked 184 of those, of whom 32 were subsequently were found to have autism spectrum disorder, 56 had language delays, 9 had developmental delays and 36 had other problems.

The survey is promising, but there was one challenge: 25% of the babies identified as potentially having developmental delays ended up on a normal development path. Such a high false-positive rate could result in a lot of unnecessary anxiety for parents.

The New York Times recently highlighted the research, which was published in the Journal of Pediatrics:

Although many pediatricians don’t screen 1-year-olds for autism, there is a growing body of evidence suggesting early intervention can be effective, said Dr. Karen Pierce, the lead author of the study — published Thursday in The Journal of Pediatrics — and assistant director of the Autism Center of Excellence at University of California, San Diego.

The checklist poses simple questions, like whether a baby responds to his or her name, whether parents can tell when an infant is happy or upset, and whether a child engages in pretend play with dolls or stuffed animals.

High Schooler Reading at 2nd Grade Level Goes to College After Fast ForWord

November 18, 2010

Articles about educational programs in scientific journals are generally concerned with significant, measurable and repeatable effects on a large pool of subjects. They’re focused on improvements in scores on standardized assessments or, increasingly, physical changes in the brain that can be established by before and after imaging using fMRI.

The measured results of Fast ForWord training are impressive. From the initial university research that led to the development of the programs to the over 1 million students around the world who have now used Fast ForWord programs, students have and continue to make significant gains in critical learning skills after short, intense training with Fast ForWord programs. For details, check out Scientific Learning’s databases of measured user results.

But sometimes it’s the anecdotal results that can be most compelling. Take, for example, this recently publicized story of a high school student who went from struggling reader to scholarship football player after using Fast ForWord:

When Kenny Hilliard reached high school, he was a gifted football player; he was not a gifted student. He was reading at the level of a second grader and struggled in all of his academic courses. School district officials in St. Mary Parish, Louisiana, originally put him on a GED track, hoping he could earn a general high school equivalency diploma instead of a traditional diploma. But today, Kenny is looking forward to not only graduating from Patterson High School with the traditional diploma, but also to attending LSU on a football scholarship.

“What changed is that Kenny did a computer program called Fast ForWord,” said Patterson High School Principal, Rachael Wilson. “He is such a talented football player, and his talents can carry him far, but recruiters are looking for kids who have talent and good grades. The first two questions recruiters ask me are ‘What kind of kid is he?’ and ‘What kind of grades does he make?’ Thanks to the progress Kenny made in Fast ForWord, he does not need to rely on athletic talent alone.”

“Before Kenny did Fast ForWord, I was worried sick that he would drop out of school,” said Brenda Hilliard, Kenny’s mother. “I knew something was different when he began reading on his own. I’d find him reading sports magazines. I knew then, that he was actually understanding what he was reading. Now he’s going to college. I am so proud of him.”

Aside from the fact that we generally cheer for the Pac-10 over the SEC here at Be Amazing Learning, this is pretty cool stuff.

Buzz: A Year of Paying Attention

October 11, 2010

NPR’s Talk of the Nation last week featured an author interview with Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist Katherine Ellison, whose new book Buzz: A Year of Paying Attention chronicles her struggle to effectively parent a child with ADHD, while dealing with her own ADHD symptoms.

You can hear the entire segment on the Talk of the Nation web site, or view a transcript of the discussion. There’s also an excerpt from Ellison’s book.


The Dreaded Parent-Teacher Conference

October 8, 2010

It’s back to school week. Then you turn around and it’s already time for the fall parent-teacher conference.

It’s hard to know who dreads the conference most. Parents? Teachers? Kids?

Does it have to be so bad? The Wall Street Journal describes efforts underway to improve the parent-teacher conference for all parties so that teachers can be less stressed, parents can get more (and more useful) information, and students don’t have to fear the post-conference dinner table.

On multiple fronts, there are now efforts under way to repair and improve how conferences are conducted. Researchers and consultants are touting new techniques to ease tensions. They’re focusing on how teachers should choose their words, where parents should sit in a classroom, how divorced couples should be accommodated, and how to avoid bruised feelings on both sides of what should be a “partnership.”

Some communities are trying unconventional approaches, such as asking students to lead the conferences or having parents and teachers meet at “neutral” locations, such as coffee shops and public libraries.

The article includes a list of 10 ways for parents to get the most out of the conference, covering everything from talking to your child before the conference to following up with emails. Definitely worth a look as we head into conference season.

The importance of self-confidence

November 30, 2009
A self-confident Be Amazing learner celebrates a new high score.

A self-confident Be Amazing learner celebrates a new high score. More right answers leads to more confidence and a lifelong love of learning.

Posit Science, which develops programs for adults based on some of the same neuroscience research on which Fast ForWord is based, is celebrating the holidays with the “12 Benefits of Brain Fitness.”

Number 4 is our favorite so far: Self Confidence

Brain research has taught us a lot about how we can help students develop critical cognitive skills such as attention, processing rates, and memory. And we know that developing these skills can improve kids’ reading abilities and give them a lifelong love of learning. But consider the critical importance of self-confidence in this equation. A student whose brain is processing more efficiently can:

  • Pay better attention in class. They’re more likely to understand the teacher’s question and give the right answer. More right answers means more confidence.
  • Better engage with peers, whether in a classroom setting or on the playground. Timing is a critical component of language comprehension: even the smallest delay turns the funny punchline of a joke into an awkward exchange. More positive interactions with peers means more confidence in social situations.

And self confidence builds on itself. More confident students become the risk takers who experiment with tougher books, challenge hypotheses, and think critically.

So while Be Amazing Learning helps students develop the foundational cognitive skills that allow them to become better readers, it might just be the self-confidence that students get from their success with programs like Fast ForWord that is the true lasting gift.

“Now I have to pry the book out of his hands!”

June 7, 2009

“How do you know it’s going to work?” is a question we get asked a lot about the efficacy of the Fast ForWord programs we provide. Of course we can’t predict the impact the programs will have on an individual child, but we always point to study after study (after study after study), from initial university lab trials to national field trials, to countless studies performed in private clinics and public school districts worldwide that show that most kids make significant gains in language and reading skills (as measured by standardized assessments) after running the programs.

But whether the programs are effective for most kids doesn’t really matter when what you’re worried about is YOUR kid. Which is why we really dig stories like this one that we just received from the mother of a boy who is about 6 weeks into Fast ForWord Language:

So last night he was reading the second Harry Potter, which is frankly above his reading level, but he’s insisted on trying it again and is really progressing in it.  He walks in at 9pm (30 min past his bedtime, but it’s officially summer vacation) and says, thumbing through the pages left in chapter 6, “Can I read one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight?  Can I read eight more pages before I go to bed?”  I informed him that he could read until 10:00 pm and then he was to go to sleep even if he hadn’t completed the chapter.  So my husband was in the adjacent room listening to him read and was impressed by how smoothly it was going.  At 10:00 I walked in and he was just closing his book.  When I asked how far he’d gotten he proudly re-opened the book to show me his bookmark resting squarely over Chapter 7.  Heretofore, reading 4 pages in an hour was nigh unto impossible for that kid!   And he’d have rather opened a vein than read 4 pages at a sitting!  Now I have to pry the book out of his hands! I’m completely stunned and thrilled!

Test results are important. But reading all of chapter 6 of the second Harry Potter in a single sitting is really what it’s all about.

Thoughts from a Be Amazing mom

January 26, 2009

Parenting ain’t easy. And when something comes hard for your child, it can be frustrating and gut-wrenching. One mom, whose five year old is currently making his way through Fast ForWord Language, shared the following:

My husband and I have been around the block a few times to doctors and therapist with our son, who just turned 5 on December 26.  Countless hours have been spent with therapist after therapist, but we have never seen him progress as much as he has with FF.  We started the FF program three days before Thanksgiving, at which time we were pulling teeth to get a 3 to 4 word sentance out of him.  When he did say things, the word order was so wrong.  Today, he is spitting out 7-10 word sentances left and right.  Now believe me, he is still behind on speech and language skills compaired to his peers, but we are making progress…we are communicating now.  And it feels WONDERFUL!  Three months ago, we knew there was no way he would be ready to start Kindergarten in July.  His teachers now tell me that he is ready.

Now, if only Scientific Learning would invent something to make my three year old take a nap and get my six year old dressed in the morning…

Building a better basketball player?

January 7, 2009

A student we are working with recently wrapped up his 6th week with Fast ForWord Language. His mom reported on his progress:

1.  His memory has improved.  Given 4-5 sentence short story, he is able to answer questions about the story without too much frustration recalling what was read.  
2.  He is motivated to improve himself when working with the different exercises.  He has better understanding what he needs to do and he feels proud when he gets a higher score.
3.  He has acquired more awareness with his surroundings.  He is a bit more involved and more interactive in his play with siblings and his desire to communicate is increased.  Yeah-hey!!!
4.  Last night was his first basketball practice and Dad said that he was very attentive listening to the coach for directions.  Last year, he was very distracted and mainly focused on the lines, rails and the lights in the room.

You know, test scores and quantitative improvements are important. But if we can improve basketball skills, we might really be on to something here!

UPDATE: The same student just finished Fast ForWord Language. Mom says:

He was indeed very proud to finish the program and can’t wait to learn more.  His self confidence is definitely lifted.  He uttered phrases such as: “This is easy to me, Mom.” “I can do it myself.” and “I don’t need help.”  These phrases are music to my ears.

Again, we cannot thank you enough.

%d bloggers like this: