Running away to join the circus used to be the final refuge of teenage tearaways.

Now it looks like it might be the solution to some of the most complex learning difficulties suffered by children.

A pioneering course has been teaching hyperactive and dyslexic youngsters how to juggle as a way of t r a i n i n g them to balance their minds.

It is h o p e d t h e s c h e m e will improve their ability to learn and make them less likely to misbehave as a result.

Expert Hilary Reed has introduced the innovative technique at the facility she heads at St Bartholomew's Primary School, in Ann Street, Brighton, for children who have struggled at Brighton and Hove's other primary schools.

Ms Reed said: "The thinking behind it is quite simple.

"We know that dyslexic children and those with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) primarily use the right side of the brain and that makes it difficult for them to do certain things.

"Juggling forces them to use the left side as well and helps them to develop it."

A pilot group of ten children aged between nine and 11 from schools across Brighton and Hove have completed three of four weekly classes with professional juggler Rob Hughes.

Each of them has struggled with severe forms of dyslexia.

Ms Reed said results were already beginning to show.

She said: "Although it is difficult for the children, they have really enjoyed it and I've noticed a huge improvement in their concentration and co-ordination."

Children with dyslexia struggle with reading and writing and often begin to misbehave because they are frustrated that they cannot focus on their work.

Ms Reed said many develop poor self-esteem as a result and can become trapped in a cycle. She said the challenge of keeping three balls in the air helped them in multiple ways, developing their brain ability and boosting their self-esteem.

She joked: "And if it doesn't work, at least they'll have a skill they can use to make some money."

Research shows the left side of the brain is more academic and the right is more creative. Each side controls the movement of the opposite half of the body, which is why carrying out physical activities using both left and right hands can help to develop the brain.

Ms Reed has previously run a similar course using African drumming, which also forces children to use both sides of the brain.

Youngsters taking part in the course have been banned from drinking fizzy drinks and have been given water instead. They have also been taking fish oil supplements, believed to improve brain power.

Ms Reed said she did not have any plans to teach the children any other circus skills for the time being.

She said: "Juggling is good because of the specific movements involved. I'm not sure other training will do them much good. It could be fun, though."

Do you think juggling could help children with learning difficulties? Leave your comments below.