Center uses exercise alongside tutoring to help children learn

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SALT LAKE CITY – When you see a child struggling with basic academics like math, writing or reading--do you automatically think exercise is the solution? Integrated Learning Strategies does.

Alene Villaneda, owner of Integrated Learning Strategies, spoke about their approach to education.

“Our goal here at our center is to help each child reach their full potential,” she said.

The location is an academic learning center focused on helping kids who struggle with things like reading, writing and math. The center offers tutoring, but they also implement things like exercise, games and other activities.

“During the winter months, children tend to be less active because of the cold weather outside, or sometimes they're just indoors watching television or watching video games,” Villaneda said.

And all of that indoor inactivity can be detrimental, according to Villaneda.

“Some video games can be helpful for learning,” she said. "But, actually studies have shown that children who are more active do better on exams, and they have less behavioral issues compared to their less active counterparts."

Some of the children at the center attend because of issues relating to ADD, ADHD or autism spectrum disorders.

“If they're moving in the classroom, it generally means because they need to move to be able to learn,” said Villaneda of students who appear to struggle to sit still in class.

Villaneda said there is a link between activity and academic achievement.

“It helps to build neural connections between the right and left brain, which are extremely necessary for a child to be able to sit in the classroom,” she said.

Some parents who spoke with FOX 13 said they saw results right away.

“We’ve seen a lot of benefits in his reading abilities, in his self-control, sleeping habits,” said Melissa Stromberg. “We've seen a lot of benefits from it."

Cheri Greenburg said her family saw improvement as well.

“At first it was really hard for her, because with the exercises it challenges her brain,” Greenburg said. “But we instantly started to see a change with her where she could recognize words that she was reading over and over again.”

Experts said that as little as 30 minutes of activity a day will help build the necessary neural connections.

“You can go skiing, you can go ice skating, you can build a snowman--but even in the house you can dance and just do all kinds of things with your kids,” Villaneda said. “Throwing balls, doing different types of activities that will help their growth and fine motor [skills].”

Starting this winter, Integrated Learning Strategies is working on opening their facility up to allow parents to come in with their children and use the center’s equipment. Most of the staff members are educators or have specific degrees in subjects like math or writing.