When Ernest, age 10, came to my SOI classes twenty years ago, he drove everyone crazy.
He banged his pencil on the table, danced in his seat and only looked at his SOI brain exercise module when I asked him each question individually. Our teachers persisted in developing his attention by using an expanded form of SOI that included sensori-integration as well as brain training modules.
As Ernest did each balance board exercise, he would have to bring his attention again and again to the task at hand to be able to master it. He struggled at first, but as each exercise was mastered, he would be given the next level. Before the SOI program, I don’t think Ernest knew he could control his own brain. He just reacted to everything.
After about sixty hours of classes, he would come in, sit quietly at the table and engage in his booklets with interest. At school, he’d become a star pupil. He now knew how to shift into the reflective mode so necessary for success in reading, composition and math.
The process of finding out exactly what a student like Ernest needed and providing the right exercises in the right order plays out again and again in SOI/IPP. Easily 90% of the students we assist have attention issues of some kind. Ernest looked like a full-blown “ADHD” candidate when he first came in. His lack of control around focusing entirely evaporated, however, once his neurological connections were put in place through exercise – both physical and mental.
There are many reasons for attention issues. A very common misconception is that only individuals with an ADD or ADHD diagnosis have trouble paying attention. Almost all students have some difficulty applying themselves fully to their studies. Gifted students with mountains and valleys in their abilities profile can struggle to reach their potential because of an “on again, off again” ability to stay the course.
Here are some of the reasons for attention issues:
- a very speedy mind that wants to go off on its own tangent and has difficulty being present to the task at hand
- hidden visual processing problems – student looks at a word or sentence and nothing registers on the brain
- auditory processing problems – the ears hear the words, the brain doesn’t ‘get it’
- stress – too much overload. Sometimes the presence of stress is obvious – sometimes its not. Hidden emotional issues take their toll.
- health – particularly allergies which can create memory loss and brain fog
All of these affect a student’s ability to learn and to engage successfully in school assignments.
Most importantly, there is a quality of attention needed for success at school and in life. Students must be able to shift gears to access reflective mode. They need to develop perseverance and the ability to make wise independent choices.
SOI/IPP gives us a road map to what a student needs and provides a sophisticated individualized program to develop learning capacity and abilities. What is more foundational to learning than being able to be fully present and focused?
written by: Connie Grist, President of SOI Systems Canada