Brain Fitness

By Kristi Rigg, M.Ed., CEO West Coast Centre for Learning, Surrey, BC

“Brain Fitness Training” has really taken off in the past few years, but what exactly is this training, and can it be a helpful tool for a struggling child?
Recent developments in neuroscience have shown that the human brain is plastic—it can modify its own structure and function if training is applied with intensity and frequency. Brain Fitness Training automates and strengthens the brain the same way a fit athlete builds muscle memory, through repetition. However, with a plethora of commercially driven brain training programs now being offered and promoted, it can be difficult for parents to know which programs are the most effective, are well researched and provide good evidence.

What exactly is Brain Fitness Training?
Brain Fitness Training is improving the participant’s ability to capture, process and retain proven instruction whilst building the brain’s learning capacity. It usually consists of a series of engaging computer-delivered brain fitness exercises designed to strengthen cognitive skills with the results often producing dramatic language and reading improvements in a variety of populations by improving working memory, attention and processing skills.

The benefits of these programs usually include:

  • Ability to focus and pay attention for longer periods of time
  • Ability to process information more quickly
  • Being more cognitively flexible, which really means to be able to shift your attention from one place to another effectively
  • Ability to retain and manipulate information
  • Increased sequencing skills, the ability to determine the order of letters within words, words within sentences, sentences within paragraphs and paragraphs within longer chunks of text
  • Improvement in social skills, taking initiative, remembering instructions, and completing assignments independently. 

How do I navigate the plethora of products and providers out there to determine which would be most beneficial to my child?
A qualified provider is key. Quality products are usually only accessible through qualified and accredited providers. Qualified providers are not selling software; they are providing a personalized service and have highly educated professionals working there. Professionals at these centres have a battery of screening tools they use to determine and make recommendations on the best product match for your child. In addition, they have the ability to provide referrals to associated professionals i.e. Speech or Occupational Therapists, & Psychologists.

What Else Do I Need To Know?
Be skeptical about those programs or service providers offering performance claims, especially those related to medical claims. Also, choose a program that offers personal coaching. Off the rack programs may be cheaper but their effectiveness fails in comparison.

Ask about funding partners or opportunities to access financial supports. Often these services can be costly but providers have relationships with funding partners and they may be able to assist you in getting full or partial funding. Many quality Employee Benefit Programs provide additional financial support. Check with your healthcare insurance provider to inquire about extended health benefit coverage.

FREE Preschool Resource from Science World

Are you a caregiver or parent with preschool-aged children? Looking for interesting and experiential activities? Science World offers free preschool resource packages as part of their Big Science for Little Hands program. These activities for children from three- to five-years-old are intended to serve as starting points and inspirations for scientific explorations. Each theme includes small and large group activities which can be adapted to any environment. There are also complementary @Home packages, designed to use easy-to-find materials, perfect for one-on-one learning.

Visit to learn more.