x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

A day in the life of Sahar Riad, Dubai brain trainer

The Life: Sahar Riad, a Brain trainer, talks about a day in life as she works with young people to improve their cognitive skills.

Sahar Riad, co-owner of the Dubai branch of BrainRX, involves schoolchildren in her stand at a back-to-school exhibit last week. Razan Alzayani / The National
Sahar Riad, co-owner of the Dubai branch of BrainRX, involves schoolchildren in her stand at a back-to-school exhibit last week. Razan Alzayani / The National

Sahar Riad was always interested in being a trainer in the education field. So in January, the former language teacher and accountant started a two-month course with BrainRx, an American cognitive-skills training company. After finishing the course, the newly certified brain trainer opened a franchise of the brand in Dubai called The Brain Workshop with her husband Hossam. She now works with children and young adults to address their learning struggles and improve their cognitive skills. Ms Riad, a 47-year-old Egyptian-Canadian, describes her typical day.



I wake and freshen up and have a breakfast of cereals, oats, eggs or cheese on toast. I also like to have tea and read a bit, but it depends on how much time I have. Our Brain Workshop is in Jumeirah. [The parent company] BrainRx has been around for 30 years and has more than 200 centres in the United States and around 35 outside it. I came across BrainRx in an educational fair in Dubai and took my son for an assessment. He did very well and I became interested. Currently, we have seven trainers, excluding myself.



I reach my office around this time, check my emails and prepare for students, consultations and assessments. Each consultation or assessment session can take abound 45 minutes. I train one student in the morning and one in the afternoon. We are training 10 children at the moment, in the age group eight to 16 years. But this can benefit anyone really, including adults and senior [citizens] who want to improve their cognitive skills, memory, presentation skills and attention. It also works with people with dyslexia, autism and other learning difficulties. One of our students has gone through a rough episode with epilepsy. It forced him to stop going to school for the two years. His training is under way.



I work with my first student and the session lasts an hour. We do activities and tasks - in total seven tasks per session. These are quite intensive and high-energy sessions. We laugh and talk during the sessions because the student needs to feel comfortable and be comfortable making mistakes. Otherwise, he will not try. For the student I am working with currently, we do an integration class during which we have a metronome, which gives out 120 beats a minute. We need to clap or tap our foot along with it. This helps to increase attention as you are listening to something but doing something else simultaneously.



Depending on how busy we are, I have lunch. Sometimes I have fruit and snacks if I do not have time to get sandwiches. I am a big fan of sandwiches.



I check emails, conduct meetings or consultations and check our Facebook and Twitter accounts are in order. I also discuss plans with my partner on marketing and finance. In August, we attended the regional Gulf summit for all BrainRx franchises. This time it was in Dubai. We had a chance to meet people from other centres. My training is also ongoing, so that I keep informed of the latest developments. The regional summits are usually biyearly. There are annual global summits as well. We might open another franchise in future because a lot of professionals are looking to improve their concentration or presentation skills for their work lives.



The afternoon training with the other student is almost the same but the difference is always about the student and how you can customise the tasks according to their levels. If it is too difficult for them, I modify it or if I see they are doing it easily, I make it harder.



I am back home and we have dinner. Preparing the salad is usually my daughter's speciality, while setting up for dinner is my son's. Sometimes they switch chores. We have traditional Egyptian food with rice or pasta. After dinner is usually a time to spend with my children, we talk and sometimes play games.



I go to sleep.