MILLBURN, NJ – LearningRx in Millburn provides children, teens and adults with individually customized “research-based programs that train the brain.” Executive Director Cindy Zhou, a Millburn resident, opened the Millburn LearningRx, one of 100 centers in the United States, on June 1 after operating a center in Short Hills for one year.
Zhou, an MBA who previously worked as a banker and management consultant for Citigroup, explains the difference between tutoring and the brain-training offered by LearningRx.
“Brain training strengthens the underlying brain skills that make learning possible,” Zhou said.
She refers to the 2011 Report of Learning Rx Training Results, which states “Tutoring asks students to simply work harder with the weak cognitive skills that were unable to fully grasp the information the first time it was taught. But LearningRx brain training takes a different approach. We eliminate the cause of the learning struggle by targeting weak cognitive skills and making them stronger.”
LearningRx is beneficial to individuals diagnosed with ADHD, high-functioning autism, dyslexia, traumatic brain injury, speech disorders, learning disabilities and the very bright who want to fine tune their abilities for a competitive edge, she said. And while the majority of its students are children and teens, adults are welcome to work on maintaining and improving their cognitive skills. LearningRx addresses such areas as attention issues, reading struggles, poor comprehension, writing struggles, working slowly, low math skills, poor spelling, avoiding homework, poor memory, motivation and behavior issues, low self-esteem, reversing letters, hyperactivity and overworking.
Zhou discovered LearningRx when her son, then 7 years old, manifested symptoms of ADHD and dyslexic and disgraphic tendencies. Zhou credits LearningRx with improving her now 11-year-old son’s skills enough that he is now reading on grade level and shows no signs of dyslexia. She became a “true believer in LearningRx’s methodology and philosophy and jumped at the chance to purchase a local franchise.”
There are no “teachers” at LearningRx. Instead, there are “trainers” who undergo a rigorous selection and training process. Prospective candidates must have bachelor’s degrees and pass psychological and educational background checks. Then they take a four-minute cognitive test which assesses processing, speed, short-term memory, attention and focusing. Approximately 20 percent of a pool of 75 applicants passes this test.
Then those successful candidates take a second five-to-six minute test of auditory processing and staying on beat to a metronome. Fifty percent of this pool fails the test. The remaining four to five candidates then take the Woodcock- Johnson Assessment, an intelligence test.
At this point, only two to three candidates remain. They undergo a qualitative interview to assess whether they have the maturity and social skills to work with students. Recently, after the multiple rounds of testing lasting over a two-month period, out of the initial pool of 75 candidates, one person was hired as a trainer.
There are currently six trainers plus two head trainers on staff at the Millburn LearningRx. There are approximately 30 students currently in attendance. All training is individualized with one-on-one focus, and the duration and costs of training are tailored to the needs of each student. Zhou explains that necessary to getting noticeable results from cognitive training are “intensity and duration.” Students are provided with a wide range of brain exercises designed by neuro-psychologists working at LearningRx’s headquarters in Colorado Springs.
Zhou states that the mission of LearningRx is “to help people be successively in life – to become not just academically proficient but also well-rounded. Cognitive ability is a tool in a toolbox that helps one persevere and succeed."
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