By Michelle Kerslake, M.Ed., Registered Psychologist
Originally published by Eckert Centre in 2009; minor revisions made in 2015
High school math was a nightmare for me. I barely passed Grade Ten and Eleven math, even with tutoring three times a week. In fact, I received 48% in my Grade Eleven math class and my teacher passed me only because I completed all of my homework. Approaching Grade Twelve math, I knew I needed a good mark to get into university, so I studied in the summer with a tutor before taking the course in the fall. Unfortunately, I did not receive a high enough mark to get into university so I had to take the course again in the winter semester of High School. It seemed as though this bad dream would never end. Then, in my twelfth grade, I was assessed for a learning disability. After my assessment was completed, my psychologist recommended I try a program called Processing and Cognitive Enhancement (PACE). After participating in the PACE program, I finally beat high school math and I was accepted into university for a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology. Math and I were not through yet though. A requirement for my degree was to take a statistics course; math again! I dreaded the course; if I did not pass then I would not be able to receive my degree. I waited as long as I could but the fateful day approached when I had to start my statistics course. To my surprise, I successfully completed the university course with an A+, my highest mark in university!
Does your child have a similar story to mine? Is your child struggling with memory, learning to read or spell, working too hard for what is achieved, slow with math facts, or experiencing attention difficulties? Does tutoring and extra work not have the desired results that you are looking for? PACE could be the answer that you have been waiting for.
The PACE program was created to train cognitive learning skills in a “mental boot camp” fashion. The founders of PACE come from a diverse background of disciplines, but all have the same goal in mind: helping children learn more easily and efficiently. The founders include psychologists, specialists in vision and auditory processing, and educators. PACE utilizes the most recent scientific research to train cognitive learning skills in an intensive one on one program.
In order to understand PACE, a review of the different levels of learning is required. The first level of learning is the development of the genetically determined abilities that we possess when we are born into this world (i.e., crawling and sitting up). The second level is the development of sensory and motor skills that are based on the innate stage, but are determined through our genetics and our environment. Sensory skills include our seeing and hearing, while motor skills include our muscles and movement. Sensory and motor skills can be trained and practiced. The third level is the development of cognitive abilities that are based on sensory and motor skills. Cognitive abilities allow us to reason, think, and process sensory information. Moreover, these abilities are a form of both innate and learned skill development. The fourth and final level of learning is academic skill development. Academic skills are developed by the teaching of specific subjects like math and reading. Academic skills are based on cognitive skills but do not develop without instruction.
PACE enhances the third level of development – our cognitive abilities. PACE does this by targeting the information processing system that the academic skills are dependent upon. PACE is different than academic retraining programs, like tutoring and remedial reading, because it targets the learning level (cognitive) that these programs are based upon (academics). If there are challenges at the cognitive level, academic retraining programs are like trying to build a house on sand; the house will collapse because there is not a solid foundation. The PACE program is like building a house on a concrete foundation that will allow the house to stand firm for a life time. PACE enhances cognitive abilities that are utilized in all academic work. Participants of PACE no longer have to learn to process information and can now process information to learn. The average improvement after twelve weeks of training in the PACE program is an increase of 3.6 years in processing skills. Additionally, individuals can better stay on task and are not as easily distracted after taking PACE. Participants of the program have the ability to handle multiple things at one time and have increased speed with which to complete a task. Further, PACE makes people feel good because of the improvement in their studies and accomplishments.
PACE has given me the chance to succeed and receive my Master of Education in School and Applied Child Psychology. Without PACE I would not be as successful as I am today. PACE is my concrete foundation!
Michelle is a Registered Psychologist providing assessment and counselling services at Eckert Centre. Michelle makes a unique contribution to the Centre by her supervisory role of our Intervention Services which provides coaching services and brain training programs to individuals with learning disabilities, developmental disabilities, social, and/or behavioural challenges, and their families. This experience, combined with her assessment and counselling training, has created a dynamic combination of knowledge, skills and experience. She also provides academic counselling to those with Learning Disabilities and/or AD/HD.