Brain Fitness for Children in 26 Centres Across Asia & the Middle East

Picture of Peter Barnes
Peter Barnes

How can you improve the learning ability, intelligence and emotional quotient (EQ) of children of all ages? cheryl chia Cheryl Chia is a Singapore based mother of 2 young girls, author of a book titled “Fit Brains Learn Better: A Chronicle of 12 years of Brain Fitness Training” , and the founder of BrainFit, a service which focuses on helping children from birth to 18 years develop a learning advantage by strengthening their brain fitness and intelligence.

What drove Cheryl to find the time, energy and enterprise to build BrainFit from its original single location in Singapore to a network of 26 centres in eight countries across Asia and the Middle East?

And what has she been able to achieve for the children who attend the BrainFit programs and for their parents as well?    

Cheryl discusses her BrainFit journey in an episode of The Learning Capacity Podcast.

Listen to the interview

Topics covered

  1. Early learning
  2. The Mind/Body connection
  3. Impact of movement on brain development & learning
  4. Combining physical movement with brain exercises
  5. Neuro-developmental model for early learning
  6. The value of play for infants & toddlers
  7. Emotional coaching for children
  8. The network of BrainFit centres in 8 countries
  9. Structured block play to support maths learning
  10. Educating parents about how to support their child’s development

People & organisations mentioned

  1. BrainFit Singapore
  2. BrainFit Thailand
  3. BrainFit Malaysia
  4. BrainFit Indonesia
  5. BrainFit Philippines
  6. BrainFit Hong Kong
  7. BrainFit China
  8. BrainFit Saudi
  9. BrainFit Turkey

Resources/books/articles/places mentioned

  1. BrainFitStudioSG

If you would like to read the  podcast transcript, here it is:

Episode 102 of The Learning Capacity Podcast

Cheryl Chia: Brain Fitness for Children in 26 Centres across Asia & Middle East

Peter Barnes:           Cheryl, you're a paediatric physiotherapist who has been working with children for the last few decades and you've specifically and remarkably developed an approach to early learning based around a neuro scientific model and you've established centres of your practice across multiple countries. Can you tell us about what you're doing please?

Cheryl Chia:                  First of all Peter, thank you so much for inviting me to be on this show and to be able to share an area that I'm really quite passionate about. So how I really started my work in neuroscience is when I was a freshly graduated physiotherapist and I started work in a children's hospital.

                                    At the time I was working with prematurely born infants. And one of my jobs is I would have to go to the ICU every day and to ensure that these very tiny little brains, very vulnerable at that time were going to be developing well. That these kids will grow up to be bright, able to learn well and do well in school like the other kids.  So, that really started my whole interest in brain development, looking at the musculoskeletal system as a physiotherapist. Of course, we now know that the body is very much connected to the brain.

                                    So, that started my work. After I left the hospital I continued to be very interested in the connection between the body and the brain. So in the early work we were doing, we were looking at using physical exercises and helping school-going kids learn better.  We were actually giving kids physical movement activities and then tracking their school results. We saw very nice gains. There was already published research in other countries that has shown this relationship.

                                    That really inspired me to keep going. So really branching out from physiotherapy or physical activity. Then as we went along, I started working with speech language therapists and I learnt about auditory processing and how that connects to language development and reading. Then I learnt about using neurofeedback to improve the attention system and that's how BrainFit really evolved into a holistic cognitive training centre.

The mind/body connection

Peter:                           Most people regard physiotherapists as people who deal with the body. But you've moved way beyond the body into the mind, into the brain and you're putting the two together, yes?

Cheryl:                         Yes. But the reality is that there is a huge connection between the body and the brain. And there's more and more research that's coming up now in this area. We now know if your heart rate is going up through aerobic work, it's actually driving the growth of brain cells.

                                    That's really wonderful especially if you think about building a fitter or more capable brain. So that really requires more brain cells growing and branching and not only that but connecting as well.

                                    So we use the physical element to really drive some of this growth and then we use mental exercises to facilitate this connectivity. So yes. Physical, the body from the way I see it, cannot be disconnected from the brain. So it's really one system but it's doing different things to the brain.

                                    I personally believe that humans are born to move it's just that with civilization our lifestyle has become extremely sedentary and I'm not sure that's a good thing. Because when we move, healthy neuro chemicals are released. So it's making us more focused to be able to be better and faster in our work.  So yeah, I find that extremely interesting, I hope you do too.

Physical movement improves many aspects of cognition

Peter:                           It's absolutely interesting and just one thing that happened just the last day or so here in Australia. There's some reporting that teenage girls are so sedentary, just sitting for hours and hours and hours a day, according to this research. Which really can't be good for their learning capacity, I imagine, based on what you're saying.

Cheryl:                         No. Apart from all the great neuro chemicals that are released when you're out and about and moving, the other thing is when you're actually outdoors or doing big movement activities is that you are impacting your visual system.

                                    Your visual system is very different when you’re sedentary. When you're sedentary, typically you're doing kind of closed vision work, right? You're looking up at a gadget most of the time for teenagers now or on a book or on paperwork.  But when you're really moving your body, the eyes are scanning the environment a lot more. That's really impacting the spatial part of the brain as well, the spatial thinking, processing of information that's really coming in from scanning.

                                    Of course, we know from the research that actually pertains to the other spectrum, where we're talking about the elderly, one of the things that they lose is this peripheral scanning ability.  So I think it's something that's very important. I don't think it's a healthy thing where any population is spending expanded amount of time being sedentary.

Peter:                           In our society here in Australia more and more people are living in apartments, which don't have the traditional backyard for a kid to run around. I imagine up in Singapore and other parts of Asia living is similarly apartment based.  So how do kids and adults for that matter, but particularly children because we want to talk about early learning here in this discussion if we can, how do young children get this gross motor movement you're talking about and get the benefits of that?

Cheryl:                         You raise a really good point Peter because I went to school in Australia and I remember coming back and commenting that my goodness, I live in Singapore, it's a highly density. Most of the people are in high rises and there isn't a backyard for most families and you're right.

                                    So children, very young children often do not get the amount of movement that a child with a trampoline in the backyard or a tree to climb or something. So the amount of exposure is really limited for kids certainly growing up in a density like Singapore. I imagine if Australia moves in that direction we're where the city has become denser and people start to live in apartments more, yes I think the opportunity to be outside, to be out and about will be more limited.

                                    That's especially important for young children because if you look at a young child, how do you learn about the left side and the right side? And taking an example like just reading, differentiating the letters of Bs and Ds. Of course that's a visual activity. You've got to be able to see a bubble to the left, a bubble to the right. But all that's kind of anchored around getting the concept right. So that's an internal sense.

                                    So, as we move around for a very young infant, for a very young child, as they're exploring with their arms, with their body, this internal sense to all the muscle senses, the touch senses, they develop and then we build that body sense. You can imagine if kids don't have the opportunity to crawl, to run, to jump, then there is less opportunity for these networks to be developing. So, I think it's an important issue and I suppose that's why there is a growing interest in brain fitness.

At BrainFit we make kids do exercises. They are really useful and we give them the opportunities to expose the brain to these exercises and activities and tasks so that these brain networks will have the opportunity to grow and develop.

Peter:                           Absolutely. This is a great venue for young kids. There is an extreme example of what happens if they don't get this activity and development that you're talking about. I don't know if you remember some years back with the collapse of the Soviet Union, in one of the Eastern Bloc countries they discovered orphanages where young kids were just basically left in cots with no stimulation, no interaction, very little movement and those kids had severe adverse cognitive results as a consequence of that.

                                    So that's an extreme example of what can happen if you don't get what you're talking about and I imagine there are parents whose children get incidentally the sort of things you're talking about.  But you're actually deliberately designing, developing and delivering these beneficial early learning activities, correct?

Starting with school aged children and moving to include infants and toddlers

Cheryl:                         Yeah, that's right. In my journey we were initially helping school-going kids to improve their performance, their physical and cognitive development. What really got me into the early childhood where we are really developing, deliberately developing activities to make sure that infants, toddlers are getting these kinds of opportunities to develop is when I had my own child.

                                    I have two girls. Isabelle is seven now. So about seven years ago when I had Isabelle I started looking at what was out there. What was available to help a child, a young girl growing up in high-rise Singapore develop.

                                    And I was actually astounded that when I started looking at some of these programs, of course they were very nice baby gym kind of programs. But I was also interested in the mental aspect aside from the physical development because research has also indicated quite clearly that babies are born quite intelligent. They can't talk, they can't really control themselves against gravity, but they are certainly processing information and that's how they acquire language. After the first 18 months they're able to put words together, right?

                                    So their thinking process is already happening. So I was looking at the physical aspect and the mental aspect. What I found was very nice baby gym programs but the mental aspects involve a lot of rote memorizing, flashcards for the kids where all kinds were marketed under the label of brain training. This was certainly in Singapore where I was at that time and now as well.

                                    I was really quite baffled because I did not agree that rote memorizing was the way to go for a very young infant because play has emerged from research as the best brain builder. So, when you're playing you have the physical aspect but you're also problem solving, you're also imagining, you're also interacting with others.

The value of play

                                    There’s lots of rich experiences going on for a young child. Of course, play is a very common word. But when you really look at people play, and that includes my husband, if I look at my husband play with my girl, what would he do? So if my little girl says, "Daddy play with me."

                                    So daddy comes in and daddy says, "Okay, I'll play with you." Then daddy ends up putting the puzzle all together and then my little girl is watching. Or daddy will be kind of there and then Isabelle is kind of putting the puzzle together and then my husband is now on his hand phone, just kind of there but not really there, but they think it's a play session, right?

                                    Then I'm looking at the toys and how there's so many toys. They are entertaining with lights and sounds rather than really providing enriching experiences for these young children. So that was when I really thought it would be quite beneficial if we put together something that's very deliberate from all these spatial movement exercises; crawling through the tunnels, all the balance and stable surfaces, to all the fine motor, critical thinking, remembering different things to solve problems, using imagination into a kind of guided play program.

Parents can be guided to use this little formula. It's something that they can just pull out of the bag without them having to scratch their heads and think about what toy are they going to buy, and how are they going to play with their child.

                                    So something that really guides them to think of play in a more structured way. To have more options and ideas in their daily interactions with a child to take advantage of this very unique and precious growth spurt that's going on in the brain.

The BrainFit Approach

Peter:                           For our listeners, you've deliberately designed programs or an approach, which let's call it the BrainFit approach. I understand you've got a thing you call the five plus three equals eight power formula. Five brain pillars plus three modes of rewiring equal eight lifelong IQ & EQ benefits

                                    Can you just tell us a little about that and also about what Brain Fit is? What you've done and do parents need to bring their children to you or can they do some of this at home or all of it at home? Where are your BrainFit studios? In what countries? What ages? How young do you start? There's a lot of questions there.

Cheryl:                         I will try and get through them. Yes, so we have a power formula that really describes our work in a one liner. So the five plus three equals eight, our power formula is what we use to describe our work at BrainFit.

                                    Five represents the five brain pillars, the five core areas of neural networks that we're interested in building. That's the movement network, visual processing, auditory processing that affects language, and then there is the focus and your working memory that's kind of sitting at the front of the brain and tBrain cogshen your emotional development that determines your EQ, your emotional intelligence, your social skills, your resilience and all that. The 3 stands for the three ways, the three methods that we typically use to improve these networks. The first would be physical exercises, as I've described earlier. Number two would be mental exercises to allow us to make these brain cells that we have tried to grow and to connect together. Then the last would be emotional coaching.

                                    So that's building the IQ, the thinking, the problem-solving parts of the brain and also the parts of the brain that helps us regulate our emotions, manage our behaviours, motivate ourselves, have more will power and resilience. So that's the three.

                                    Then the eight outcomes, we have summarized it into an acronym. The eight is really SMARTEST, for the smartest brain. S is for speed of processing. M is memory. A is attention. R is reasoning. T is timing and coordination. And the last E, S, T describes the EQ function. So that would be emotional regulation, social skills and the last T for tenacity. So something easy to remember.

                                    This is really what we do. We build the brain and very specifically in each of the areas we look at exercises and how each one of them impacts each part of the brain. We personalize exercise as much as we can through the three modes and then we expect the child to improve.

BrainFit in eight countries

                                    Right now BrainFit is in eight countries coming to nine now. They are Singapore, Malaysia, we're in Thailand, we are in Indonesia, we are in Turkey. We will be opening this summer quite soon in a few months in China and Saudi. We're also in Hong Kong, not as a studio but we work with schools in Hong Kong. So these are the countries we are in.

 BrainFit Baby Program

Typically, if you come into a BrainFit studio we offer programs. If you have a young child from as young as nine months then you can bring a baby in. So we have a BrainFit baby program that caters to babies from nine months to 36 months.

                                    It's a play-based program. It's guided play where the parent comes in with the child and our intention is as I've mentioned to let parents have ideas to understand play and how to maximize the effects of play.  So the 20 minutes that you're really having a good quality play time with your child, how you can maximize it to the brain's, to your child's, to maximize your child's potential and growth and of course to have fun at the same time.

We also support parents through our weekly videos. So parents also get a two minute video every week when they're on this program because it’ sometimes hard for parents to really review in the class as well.  We send out these little videos to give them more understanding. It's like a little parenting curriculum almost, they're very short, very bite sized. So it's easy for parents and we have further home ideas on what they can do. So that's the BrainFit baby program.

Peter:                           There are people I know who would say at nine months the baby's brains are not developed enough to really take any sort of instruction. But clearly your research and experience says that's not the case.

Cheryl:                         Yes. I'll give you an example of quite a recent research. It was really interesting. The scientists were looking at very young infants. I think these were like six month old infants, maybe six to nine months. So certainly very young. They were just looking at how these babies would interact with blocks, all right?  So we're talking about building blocks. And why do scientists look at blocks? We look at blocks because block play is important and useful and we know that children who engage more in structured block play actually do better in math, all right?

Structured block play supports math learning

                                    Math is a very spatial or visual subject. Structured block play is encouraged because it builds parts of the brain that supports math learning. That part we know. So scientists wanted to look at how babies would be engaging with blocks.  At six to nine months they already see a difference. The scientists observed how some babies would choose to look at the blocks more, would choose to interact with the blocks more. But other babies would not show as much interest. They might move away, they would spend less time looking at these blocks or interacting with them.

                                    And to understand my early motivation, you could see that my babies like blocks or my babies don't. So parents might use this kind of language. But when the scientists did brain scans on these babies to understand what's driving that behaviour, they found that the children who spend more time looking at the blocks and engaging with these toys actually had stronger areas that were corresponding to mental visualization or mental rotation. This is the map area that I mentioned earlier and it was actually much more active. So we're talking about already a fitter muscle. I like to have parents think about these brain networks, these abstract brain networks as kind of muscles.

                                    So these little brain areas that are supporting the task which eventually supports math is already active and working for certain kids, and that's why they are interested in the blocks and they play more. Remember that the muscle ... the brain is like a muscle Peter.

As these kids are engaging more and playing more and more with blocks that area actually builds up more and more so that these young babies are in a sense building all these wonderful foundations that will support them when they go to school formally and learn math. So now you have the other group of kids that were really not very interested. So, they would not look at the blocks for a long time or not play with the blocks. So, what typically a parent would do, and that's very natural.

                                    You would think that oh my kid doesn't like the blocks. That's just not something he's interested in. Then we store the blocks away in the store room, right, or we put them away and we think oh my baby likes to play with cars perhaps or maybe soft toys and I'll buy more of them because we want to make baby happy, we want to go along with what baby likes. That's a very natural parental instinct.

                                    But if you look at the signs, right, and understanding that the brain is a muscle. So what can we do now and what should we do? Our philosophy is really that you don't put away the blocks even more so for the children that are kind of not able to find pleasure or motivation in it.

                                    But of course we don't kind of force feed and force the child to do anything. Play has got to be fun for it to be effective in the brain. So the question then really becomes why is little Johnny not interested in the blocks? Is it because these blocks are too big for his little hands to learn the play or too small or is it because he's not having the fine motor skills yet? What can I do? Maybe I just need to do more of dropping little objects back into a container. Maybe practicing the hand release before little Johnny can kind of manipulate the blocks more successfully so the enjoyment can come. That's what we're interested in.

                                    Looking at what's really useful and beneficial and what's already happening from very early on. We just don't know but we see behaviours. Then to respond to a young child with more appropriate kind of play. So still fun but really guided in understanding that something is fun.  It's like parents when they tell us right oh, my child doesn't really like, is not interested when I read a book, my child crawls away. So but then do you keep the book? You don't.

Because we have to develop the level for reading and we know that a child who starts formal school with a level reading has a huge academic advantage because the number of words they're going to learn, just the vocabulary they're going to be exposed to. For a child that's reading for pleasure it so much more than a child who's not reading or who has to be forced to read.

                                    So, if young babies are crawling away and the parents are saying that oh I've stopped reading because my child is not really listening. We don't tell the parent oh that's fine, just don't read. We'll say that no, let's keep going. We want to build that muscle.

                                    We have to understand why is little Johnny not enjoying the reading session. Is it because there are too many distractions around when you're reading? Is the TV on? Are gadgets around? There are too many toys lying around. How about going to a quiet room? How about making the book more interesting? How about buying board books the child can manipulate?  We want to make something which we think is interesting, which we think it's important and then to make it in a fun way for the child. So, that's what we are really interested in doing Peter. I hope all this makes sense.

Learning for the child and their parents

Peter:                           Yes, it does. It does Cheryl, absolutely. One of the things I'm hearing as you're talking is that for this age group you're working with the child but you're also really delivering a lot of education to the parents.

Cheryl:                         Yes, I think that's really important because the babies can come to us once a week, right, or an hour. And of course we can have a good quality, 50 minutes or 60 minutes of play.

                                    But the child is spending time every day with the parents, and we are talking about neurons connecting, a thousand neurons connecting every second during this period of rapid brain build especially in the first three years, where a lot of important brain networks are being laid down.

                                    I think there's a lot of opportunity. And if there's a parent who is with a child and spending a lot of time with the child and a lot of parents also tell us that they don't know what to do. You know they run out of ideas, of things that they can do. So, this is really us wanting to engage parents and let them know that the brain is really like a muscle and this is what the science is telling us and that the babies are really quite able to interact and learn if we know how to and playing must always be fun.

                                    But also giving them the ideas and the tools practically, things that can be carried out easily in a home, right? You can use pasta pieces to do threading, just kind of like I think it's information you can find on the internet of course.  We have very busy parents certainly in Singapore. So a lot of them appreciate us putting it in neat packages. But nothing parents can't research and do on their own. There's a lot of good information out there on the internet.  I think what we have really done is to kind of curate this information and to make it easier for parents.

Peter:                           I think that's very valuable.  Because you just mentioned that parents are busy, they are very busy and for them to sort through the mass of information that's out there on the web and make decisions about what's valid and what's not valid, what's useful and not useful.

Having someone like you who's an expert, who's spent a lot of time researching the issue and you understand it, be a guide, be a curator, I'm sure is very helpful.

Cheryl:                         Yes. So that's really our goal for our brain fit baby program.

BrainFit Junior Program for children over 3 years old to prepare for school

Peter:                           Great. Then you have the same BrainFit neuro-scientific approach for older kids, don't you?

Cheryl:                         Yeah, that's right. Kids who are past three go into our junior program. So, where we have a more structured kind of training program, we're now really preparing them a little bit more for school now.

                                    We’re looking at attention span, working memory and again all fun, but really building up these processes which would be important when they start school, when they go into a big classroom and they have to be seated and to be paying attention for more extended durations of time.

Brain Fit brain booster for older students – intensive brain rewiring

                                    Then following that for kids from seven and up, really six years old, six and above up to uni students come to us as well. So we have kind of an intensive rewiring program, a brain booster. Things get a little bit more intensive where we use very personalized exercises designed for every child after an assessment, to see where are the gaps, where are the different muscles that are strong.                             

We want to tell parents the strong areas they want to exploit as well. But what are the weak areas that could be potentially contributing to careless behaviours, inattentive behaviours. Kids who are not motivated for school, who are really putting in excessive effort but getting very average returns and kids are who getting demotivated and all that.

                                    So really trying to solve some of these challenges and making it easier. So the intent is to really make learning more fun and more effective and more successful for the children through building up some of these cognitive processes or brain muscles as I like to call them.

Remedial interventions or learning enhancement?

Peter:                           For parents who are bringing their children to you, who are beyond the baby group, are they mainly coming because they want to give their kid the best possible chance, a boost or a sort of enhancement or is there a remedial group, there's some problem?

Cheryl:                         Yeah, that's a really, really good question. When we started out about 20 years ago (BrainFit is that old), we were certainly working with a group of kids who were interested in remedial exercises. So where kids come in, they might be failing or not doing well in school, have attention deficit disorder. Yeah, so some of them might come in with a diagnosed learning difficulty or dyslexia.

                                    So really having quite a much more, bigger struggles in their learning journey. That continues to be the case, we still have that group of kids coming in. But more and more I think it's just with increasing awareness of brain training it's really is more ... it's closer to physical training nowadays where some of the parents have that kind of mentality now.

                                    That's really the advice that we're telling parents to look at the brain really like an organ that we need to nurture and look after. That means the food we eat, how much we are sleeping, how much time we are spending on gadgets. It's all impacting on this very important organ perhaps in ways that we don't even know.

                                    I think people need to know that and to start looking after it like looking after our heart. And just like we know that if we run on the treadmill three to four times a week, 20 minutes to 30 minutes each time we can prevent heart disease, we can actually strengthen the cardiac muscles.

                                    We now know that the brain responds to exercises very much like a muscle. So we are more and more emphasizing the idea of brain health and where you can boost learning, where you can make learning more efficient, where spending the same amount of time perhaps learning could be faster. We are starting to see the group of parents come in where kids are doing reasonably well but they are hoping that by sharpening attention span or memory, the child can spend less time academically. And in Asia our kids do spend quite a lot of time on school work, right?

                                    So, parents are hoping that they can be more balanced. They have more time for sports. And also, when we're building up the brain it's not just for academic as well because when you improve speed of processing for example and coordination. So not only your planning improves but we see kids doing better in sports as well.

                                    More and more parents are beginning to understand the brain. We have parents that certainly from 20 years they're starting to change. I wouldn't say that's mainstream. I really think it would be the parents who are more aware who perhaps have spent more time reading about it, who perhaps have had the direct experience with some of their family members reporting some of the changes or they're psychologists themselves.

                                    But we continue to want to educate the parents that the message of enhancing the brain and training the brain is really for everyone, even the adults. We can sharpen every day functioning and we could save time and be happier as a result.

Happiness vs high cognitive achievement?

Peter:                           Happiness? Some cynics might say yes, sure that's all very well Cheryl. You're developing these geniuses or these young high cognitive achievers but are they happy?

Cheryl:                         Do I have a take on that?  I absolutely have a huge stake on that. You know while the clinical definition of cognition is kind of like the academic pathways for critical thinking, problem solving, the school kind of pathways.

                                    When we talk about a fit brain we very much include the emotional aspect because to us a fit brain is a brain that is of course able to remember well, pay attention well, do all the hard work well.  But it's really also the software, the state from which you are doing all that. We know from research that you can't talk about performance without including that as well because you know when a child is interested and motivated and self-driven, how much more positive the neurochemistry is that actually facilitates the rewiring that we are after.

                                    So one is not detached from the other. So if I have a child that's kind of dragging his feet to brain fitness or I've got to do all these exercises again, my coaches  know that we're not going to get good results.  It's not the right thing at all because we want the child to be interested in what they're doing and that itself is an important criterion for success in brain training.

                                    But at the same time brain training is not a walk in the park. Kids are constantly being entertained, right? I think part of the issue is the gadgets. We live in an IT world, in a technological world where there's instant gratification on every front.

Peter:                           Yes, exactly.

Cheryl:                         You know you're bored with a channel, you switch, right? So brains are not very good with enduring boredom. Brain fitness is a little bit like physical training where you're running on the treadmill. Now running on the treadmill is not very much fun, right? But you still do it, right?

                                    You do it because you feel better afterwards, and it helps you to function well for the rest of the day. So we tell the children that message as well. Look, there are things that are hard work. Hard work is important. Getting a law degree is going to be hard work, right? Or any degree for that matter. You've got to read, you've got to do boring stuff, right?

                                    So there's time for that and we want to put our heart into it. So it's all not fun. But we're going to have fun afterwards. So we teach our children really how to think about the brain when emotions come and frustrations come. When boredom comes, how do we deal with it because there will be boring things and boring things are not necessarily bad things.

                                    We don't always have to be entertained. So we teach the kids that there is a time to relax and children should have fun, but there's also a time to sit down and really just bite the bullet and do the hard work because in work and in life there are chores that are not very fun but they need to be done. To really let them understand how the brain works and not to be subjected to the emotions that they have, but to really be a master of the emotions. So we have a strong EQ component.

Emotional coaching is a big, big part for us in brain training where we are literally teaching the children about how the brain works, how emotions come about. Why are there emotions. How emotions are all fine. Emotions tell us what we want. But emotions may not always be accurate. Our thought processes may not always be accurate, right?

                                    So how can we think in more positive ways? How can we manage our emotions more positively so that we don't become the slaves? That we're kind of just angry or we're bored and we're lashing out, we're sad. But really being in control, right, and being in charge through understanding how the brain works.

                                    Of course, we have fun in our brain training. We celebrate. Often kids have put in hard work and we have the high fives and the rewards and we want the positive brain chemistry to really encourage them after doing hard work. So that's really our philosophy and I would say that being happy is a big ingredient. If we want success in performance and ultimately in life.

Success stories

Peter:                           Cheryl, you're doing such wonderful work, such valuable work. Clearly you're passionate about it. I can hear your passion and your knowledge come through in everything you say. We can keep going for a long time, I know, and still not get anywhere the edges of your knowledge and your experience. So we're going to have to call a halt at some stage.

                                    So let's before we do that, can I just ask you are there one or two or three examples you just could let us have, let our listeners hear of kids who've gone through your early learning programs and made significant gains, big transformations or what can you tell us about that before we finish up?

Cheryl:                         Yes. A lot of these feedback of course from very young babies or every young children it would be parents giving us that kind of feedback. So, I would encourage you to visit our Facebook. It's BrainFitStudioSG. You can watch the videos there where parents actually share how the kids have responded.

                                    So, parents of kids who have been through our babies program have reported that their language acquisition has been better and they see that kids are learning faster. And for the older kids who go to school you can see some of the videos where the kids themselves are reporting some of the effects.So we've got a child talking about how we've really helped him to control his emotions so that when he is now looking at his friends play but he's got a task to do he tells himself let me finish this task first then I go and play.

                                    He thinks he attributes that to how we have really helped him to control his emotions so that he's better able to manage his own actions and his behaviours. And we've got other videos of kids talking about how their academic results have improved because they're able to remember better. So school has become easier for them.

                                    The brain controls so much that we do, right? From how we feel, to how we think, and how we make decisions. So when you impact this muscle at a very kind of biological level, you can see improvements coming up on many, many fronts. That's the one reason why I continue to love the work that I do because there are so many stories that you can hear from people who have been through that and it's always kind of different.

                                    But my takeaway after doing this for such a long time is that parents, if you have a child who is struggling do not give up hope because the brain is like a muscle. Brain training is not easy or I wouldn't say that it's a quick fix, you come to us for two weeks and everything is going to be okay. That would be a false message.

                                    It's like running on a treadmill for weeks and months, right, can give you a stronger heart. In the same way if you are committed to tactical brain exercises for a few months and you're committed to a routine, you can see the gains. And for parents with very young children, if you have kids who are not interested in reading or in some of the good things that you want a child to do, keep doing that. Don't give up, right?

                                    So, build routines where you continue to make the activity fun and make sure the environment is right for the child and you continue and you persevere, I promise you, within one month, two months the baby will be with you kind of enjoying the book together. This is really from parents that have given us the feedback that if you persevere, you do the right things, you keep things fun, and the environment right you can get there. So, that would be my last words.

Peter:                           Cheryl, that's just wonderful. Thank you so much for your last words. Thank you for giving that advice to parents. If our listeners want to find out more about you and what you're doing, besides your Facebook page, BrainFitStudioSG.  Any other way they could contact you if they want to?

Cheryl:                         Yes, we have a website. It's So they can visit us there as well or drop us an email if they have any questions. So, that would be

Peter:                           Cheryl, thank you so much for your time, for your enthusiasm, energy, and sharing all that knowledge with our audience.


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