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Focus 2 Learn Program

Bright Futures Learning

516 South Coit Street
Florence, South Carolina 29501

The Focus 2 Learn Program includes a DVD, four small therapy balls, one 20-inch inflatable therapy ball, two agility sport cones, and a Focus 2 Learn Homework and Study Resource Guide. All of the items store in a sturdy re-closeable box. The included cones are collapsible so that the storage box is a convenient size. There are no additional supplies required and a computer is not necessary for use of this product. Only a television and DVD player are required. The program utilizes six different activities (each led and demonstrated by a Certified Instructor): Cross Crawl Marching, Ball Toss Transfer, Figure 8 Walking, Sit Up and Toss, Spin and Toss, and Prone Toss. Several of the activities offer variations and a partner version in order to offer flexibility and differing levels of difficulty. An "Activities Only" option on the DVD menu allows the viewer to move directly to one of the six activities. Once at a specific activity, the program runs right into the next activity as each activity completes. The program is designed to improve visual processing skills, bilateral skills, visual tracking, visual memory, auditory processing and memory, and processing speed. As these skills improve, a child's focus and attention span will improve, thereby increasing confidence and efficiency in learning. The 12-page Resource Guide includes a brief introduction, a history of the Bright Futures Learning company, a definition of Sensory Integration and its signs and symptoms, directions on how to use the program, how to incorporate homework and studying, learning games, a note on the importance of good food choices, and homework and organizational strategies. The learning games include category games, visual and auditory memory games, and alphabet games. A live support team is available for questions during regular business hours.

The program is designed to be used independently or with a partner once the activities have been mastered. Each activity is introduced in a slow motion mode before it is demonstrated in "real time." And each one is repeated several times so that you do not have to pause and restart the DVD repeatedly. The program stresses the importance of having the child follow along and complete activities for 15 to 20 minutes daily in order to achieve the maximum benefit of the program. Suggested performance times are before school to awake the brain, before and during homework sessions, and before and during study times to increase concentration and attention span. The learning games are as a means of varying activities, implementing educational value, and increasing processing speed. The homework and organizational strategies are important reminders to designate a well-organized environment for educational activities, a regular time to encourage consistency, and a firm program to work toward completion of goals. The activities were designed by an occupational therapist and an educational specialist who found too few resources available to parents who wanted to help children with sensory integration disorders. This series of activities was designed specifically for use at home. Although not necessarily for a homeschool environment, they are ideal for home use with any educational teaching method. Sensory integration dysfunction causes children to struggle through many activities while either over-stimulated or under-stimulated and often causes frustration and irritability with schoolwork. These activities were designed to improve sensory processing skills and attention span while challenging the brain in a fun environment. With improved neurological organization, children become better learners.

We thoroughly enjoy this program and will continue using it for a very long time. Our son has sensory integration dysfunction and is on the autism spectrum of disorders. He is very easily distracted, has poor motor function, and has to work very hard to concentrate for schoolwork. The activities in the Focus 2 Learn program were difficult for him to grasp, but they held his interest enough for him to continue attempting them. The activities themselves are fairly simple, but for a child with poor motor function, even jumping jacks are almost impossible! The background music offers a constant beat without being distracting, but it can easily be muted for children bothered by musical interference. We found that while our son was learning a new activity, it was best to not have the music so that he could focus only on the movements. I have read about right brain and left brain use and the processing involved to encourage bilateral function, but I was skeptical about whether this program would help. We figured the muscular awareness alone would make the program worth the time and effort as he increased muscle tone and control. For the first two weeks, there was no noticeable improvement. He wanted to work the activities from the beginning, even when struggling, but I was not witnessing any real improvement with his school time. After those first couple of weeks, however, he was able to remain seated for longer periods of time, his temperament actually improved, and the learning process was coming more easily for him. Our two-year-old is already getting in on the activities and we are looking forward to years of use of this program.

I happen to be a list person and would have loved to have a list of the activities with spaces to check off time spent or days completed. I resorted to tracking our work on my own. Also, the demonstrations were shown on a padded mat that our son begged to have at home, which was a little annoying, but we were able to live without it. Be aware that some children may struggle if their provided supplies are somehow different from those on the DVD. The encouragement from the instructor was a nice touch and was offered at regular intervals. Our son thrives on repetition and sameness, so watching the same DVD over and over again is a positive thing for him. But it's also nice that as he has gotten better with the activities, he doesn't always have to play the DVD to perform an activity. The learning games were an additional bonus, but there certainly could have been more of them. Creative parents will have no problem coming up with additional ways to implement educational tasks with the Focus 2 Learn Program.

Homeschool families who have children with special needs sometimes feel forgotten. The choice to disconnect completely from public schools and end an Individual Education Plan is often a difficult one because of the benefit of having some occupational therapy through the school system. Focus 2 Learn allows families to perform these kinds of activities from the comfort of home. The support team availability is also an asset not to be overlooked; help is truly a phone call away. We have found these activities to be well worth the time and effort our son has put in. His muscle tone has improved, as has his confidence when playing ball and his overall endurance. The increased attention span and calm attitude he has toward his table work has convinced us that activities to increase bilateral integration really do make a difference. The cost is reasonable when compared to curriculum purchases or the price of a session with an occupational therapist, and the fact that the use of this program will positively affect all other programs in your child's education is a wonderful benefit! Focus 2 Learn will indeed live up to its title and help your child focus to learn more efficiently and in a sweeter frame of mind.

Product review by Donna Campos, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, LLC, September 2007

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