Sometimes it takes awhile to find the perfect fit. 14-year-old Kirsten Tillett started out in a typical school environment. Around third grade, her parents Luis and Gigi noticed she was having trouble with comprehension and retention.Her school did some cognitive assessments, but Gigi said they weren’t helpful.
“They said she was fine,” Gigi says. “But I’m sitting here with her doing her homework and I can tell that she’s not getting it, that she’s struggling.”
It took several years before the family found the perfect learning fit for Kirsten. Full-time public school, part-time private school, online learning, homeschooling — nothing seemed to fit for this tactile, hands-on learner.
“I did feel frustrated,” Kirsten says now. “I didn’t like school because it was hard for me to learn. it really discouraged me that I couldn’t learn like everybody else.”
Today, she’s singing a different tune. Kirsten feels confident in her ability to learn and excited about the possibilities for her future. She has finally found the right mix, with help from her parents, the National Association for Child Development, and Simply Smarter.
Finding a personalized program
Once Kirsten had exhausted the typical solutions, the family began several years of trying out different learning methods. Gigi recalls testing out full-time homeschooling, but “it wasn’t a perfect fit,” she says. Kirsten was a social butterfly and the family decided to send Kirsten to Champion Preparatory Academy to take elective classes in their hometown of Apopka, Florida, while Gigi continued to homeschool Kirsten most of the day.
By ninth grade, Kirsten decided to try attending Champion full-time. Things were progressing, but she still struggled academically. Then Champion moved Kirsten’s program online, and Gigi decided it was time to try something new.
A fellow parent recommended the National Association for Child Development. She told Gigi that the therapy programs provided by the NACD weren’t just for children with special needs and diagnosed learning disabilities. There were actually several families at Champion who used NACD literature to help their children with academic progress, attention, and focus.
Less than two months later, Kirsten was well into her NACD program and Gigi was hopeful they had finally found that perfect fit that would change Kirsten’s approach to learning.
“She was not an interested reader — she did not like to read at all. She always had math struggles. And it started to change,” she says. “Within that first month, I saw a little spark of change.”
Change the brain, change the outlook
Kirsten began a program with the NACD in January 2015, working through brain exercises that helped build her abilities to focus and retain information.
“All the activities are short, two minutes at a time and then you go on to a different activity for three minutes,” Gigi says. “The frequency and duration are important, and everything starts to fit together.”
NACD created Simply Smarter as a supplement to the cognitive development programs they assign to their clients. It’s a tool that allows the user to interact directly with the exercise, building new levels of working memory in the brain and allowing the individual to process information more fully and quickly.
Kirsten started to notice changes in her own thinking.
“I want to learn now. I have a craving to learn,” she says. “I see that I can remember stuff now a lot better that I did before, so I think it’s definitely working.”
She’s still fairly new to NACD, and has only been using Simply Smarter since March, but Kirsten says the programs have helped her more than the other education plans she’s tried. She and Gigi are now working together on the homeschool front, following their NACD program, and watching Kirsten’s scores grow on her Simply Smarter dashboard.
Kirsten has found the joy in learning, and her frustration is gone.
“I am getting to where I need to be,” she says. “I’m just going to continue to work as hard as I can to get as good as I can get. I’m not too worried about everybody else.”
Learn more about how the Simply Smarter system works, and get started with a free trial today!