Neuroplasticity, brain development and tools that support academic success.
By Tim Bush, Unyte-iLs Programs Consultant, COTA/L
For many teachers, counselors, and educators, supporting children in the school system isn’t just about academic performance, (though clearly, that’s a big part of the job) educators are often expected to promote positive behaviors that are necessary for learning, such as emotional regulation and understanding when it’s time to play and when it’s time to concentrate and focus.
Some schools can employ an educational Occupational Therapist, or OT, who works alongside teachers to promote active participation in activities that help kids learn and develop life skills, be creative, and thrive. Not all schools have the funds to hire an OT. Considering the fundamental task of educators being to educate, it can feel frustrating to not have the bandwidth to focus on the aspects of learning that help children perform better at school and socially. But some tools exist that can help provide some of the support an OT provides, such as a multisensory program like the Focus System.
What is the Focus System?
The Focus System is a multisensory program that uses music, movement, and, when ready, cognitive activities to support children’s growth and development. Specifically, the Focus System is based on the concept of neuroplasticity—the scientific understanding that the brain is malleable, constantly adapting, learning, and recovering. Using this theory, the Focus System incorporates specific movements and cognitive activities that provide the type of enrichment the brain needs to develop new and reinforce existing pathways governing organization of the body and brain function.
What Benefits Does the Focus System Offer Educators in a School Setting?
The Focus System is a powerful tool for educators because it helps children become more receptive to learning, specifically, it:
- Helps enhance sensory and learning readiness
- Stimulates emotional regulation and grounding
- Improves attention, focus, and concentration
Additionally, the Focus System:
- Doesn’t require access to a lot of space to properly implement sessions
- Is ideal for daily use—which makes it perfect for teachers who see kids daily
- Provides access to interventions that target needs found in school-aged children such as issues with attention or emotional regulation
- Can be a tool used in-clinic, at school or at home
The Focus System includes six programs, each geared towards specific goals. Focus System training includes learning about each program, however, there are two specific programs are instrumental in supporting educational goals:
Concentration and Attention:
This program aims to improve the fundamental skills required to excel at learning. Specifically, it helps educators work with students on:
- Sustained Attention and Focus
- Processing Speed
- Working Memory
- Mental Energy
- Executive Function Skills (flexible thinking, self-control, working memory, etc.)
Reading and Auditory Processing
This program takes aim at what could be considered the traditional elements of school, reading, writing, and speaking, helping students improve:
- Phonemic Decoding
- Speech Intonation
- Speech/Language Processing
- Reading Comprehension
- Language Comprehension
- Organization of Ideas
How Can Educators Incorporate the Focus System in the Classroom?
Learning how to incorporate a new tool into the classroom might feel daunting, but the Focus System is specifically geared towards use in a variety of settings and locations. For educators who want to use the Focus System, it’s easy to incorporate during:
- Quiet reading or classwork
- Group activities
- Center time (if applicable)
- Pull out classes such as physical education or art
Additionally teachers can use the Focus System during specific activities such as:
- Word searches
- Handwriting activities
- Light reading exercises (ex: sight words)
- Brain games
- Homework or class assignments (not too intense to eliminate frustration)
An Effective Tool to Support Student Growth
The Focus System is a powerful tool that helps teachers provide the type of enrichment students need for success. Working in conjunction with the concept of neuroplasticity, the Focus System is known to have long-lasting benefits that see children improve their concentration, focus, social skills, and learning readiness.
If you’d like to learn more about the Focus System and how you can incorporate it into your school or classroom, schedule a call today to speak with me today.
Learn More About the Focus System:
Ron Minson, M.D. & Edward Howell, M.D.: How the Unyte-iLs Focus System Works
On-Demand Webinar: Focus Forward with Tim Bush, COTA/L and Kelly Beins, OTR/L
A Pilot Study with STAR and Integrated Listening Systems for Children With Sensory Processing Problems