Our brain is divided into two hemispheres: The left brain and the right brain. Not only these hemispheres are anatomically separate, but they also function differently. Some people even say that they have their minds. So why not start with a child’s brain development?
Conventional wisdom tells us that our unique personality, thought-process, and behaviour are influenced by whether we are right-brained or left-brained. Right-brained individuals are supposedly creative and big picture thinkers, while left-brained individuals tend to be more analytical and logical.
However, a recent study from the University of Utah, demonstrated that the left-brain or right-brain inclined concept is a myth. The study looked at brain scans of more than 1,000 young people between the ages of 7 and 29 to determine whether one side of the brain was more active than the other. The study concluded that there was no evidence of brain ‘sidedness’.
Therefore the concept of being left-brained or right-brained is nothing more than a figure of speech. Indeed it is not a scientific fact. This finding resulted in the development of a ‘whole-brain learning’ methodology in which children are encouraged to accelerate their learning by linking their logical and creative minds.
That said, efforts to develop the brain should begin early. One of the main reasons is because of how fast the brain develops before birth and continues into early childhood; the most important years to build a strong foundation for upper learning, health, and life success. For the sake of clarity, we will refer to the two hemispheres as the right and left brains.
The Left Brain
How do left brain thinkers learn?
According to The Whole-Brain Child, a book written by Dr. Daniel Siegel and Dr. Tina Payne Bryson, our left brain loves and desires order. It’s logical, literal, linguistic (it likes words), and linear (it puts things in a sequence or order).
Lauded as the preferred brain, the left has a systematic manner of understanding and learning. If nurtured correctly, children can pre-maturely unlock their potential to learn faster, instead of counting on their adolescence to figure out on their own.
The Right Brain
The right brain, on the other hand, is holistic and non-verbal. It sends and receives signals that allow us to communicate through facial expressions, eye contact, tone of voice, posture, and gestures.
The right brain values big-picture thinking. The meaning and feel of an experience, such as emotions and personal memories. In other words, if the left brain focuses on the text, the right brain makes sense of the context.
What is right brain education?
A study by Georgetown University Medical Center hypothesizes that, unlike adults, young children have brains with a superpower. Findings indicate that young children use both brain hemispheres to understand language.
The finding also suggests a possible reason why children appear to recover from neural injury much more quickly than adults.
Brain Development in Children
Did know that the right brain develops first? Young children in their first three years are by default ‘right-brained’. They, therefore, don’t have the ability to use logic and words to express their feelings. They live their lives completely at the moment. In other words, logic, responsibilities, and time do not make sense to them.
According to Dr. Daniel Siegel and Dr. Tina Payne Bryson, the minute the toddler begins to ask “Why?” is when his or her left brain is beginning to kick in. This also answers why ages 2 until 7 matter so much for brain development and how good preschools can provide the right brain training.
Promoting Healthy Brain Development
From birth to 3 years old, a child’s brain undergoes a crucial period of development. This period is when rapid growth happens.
During then, a multitude of factors can hinder this crucial stage of development. Notwithstanding genes playing an important role, the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention claims that the following listed below contributes to developing a healthy brain:
- Proper nutrition
- Non-exposure to toxins or infections
The real fun begins once the baby is born. Reading, singing, and talking to your baby along with making facial expressions and other forms of play are key to your baby’s brain development.
Children soak knowledge from their environments. Hence, parents owe up to a large proportion of a child’s learning environment because children mimic and mirror what they observe around them.
This serves as right brain training as they associating emotions with their environment.
A great way to exploit this fact is to read out aloud or consistently reward children when they are performing good deeds. The author of Atomic Habits, James Clear, explains that by doing so, children would naturally associate these instances with positive emotions.
How to Help Children Develop Both Sides of Their Brain
Children’s brain development is strongly influenced by their environment and their interactions with the people around them.
Vision and hearing are the first to develop, followed by early language skill sets and cognitive functions. For children to be equipped with social, cognitive, and emotional skillsets, the development of both sides of the brain is crucial.
How can we help children develop both sides of their brain?
As written in the book, The Whole-Brain Child – “Two Brains Are Better Than One: Integrating the Left and the Right”, there are two left and right brain activities for kids or brain games for kids, that parents can use to develop both sides of the brain.
Strategy #1: Connect and Redirect: Surf Emotional Waves
Step 1: Connect with the Right
This means to acknowledge our children’s feelings. As they consistently operate on their right brain, they have yet to develop abilities to reason or to use words in attempting to express themselves.
Brain activities for kids include:
- Physical touch
- Empathetic facial expressions
- A nurturing tone of voice
- Non-judgmental listening
Step 2: Redirect with the Left
This means to rationalize with simple logic and language. The use of the Socratic Method of questioning, would imbue the importance of asking, ‘Why?’. To employ this is to reframe the narrative in which gets children to ask why.
Strategy #2: Name it to Tame it: Tell Stories to Calm Overwhelming Emotions
When your child is going through emotional distress, displaying understanding comes first. While they may not necessarily come from an ethical standpoint, employing stories/anecdotes would set the premise of desirable or acceptable behaviour.
The conventional method of parenting is to scold or shame a child when a mistake is made. However, that causes the child to associate mistakes with negative emotions. The approach to resolving your child’s mistakes can greatly affect a child’s outlook on life.
Tell stories to your child in a calm manner so that it speaks to both sides of your child’s brain. While doing so, highlight the emotions of the characters portrayed in the stories.
This enables the child to subconsciously reflect upon themselves. This is effective because the left is reasoned with the story told, while the right is reasoned with how characters react; this technique is to tame the emotion by naming it.
The Q-dees Link & Think Methodology
Backed by science, the Research and Development team at Q-dees continuously strives to provide educators with support and resources to help promote healthy brain development for our students.
In order to stay true to our mission, educators are taught to practice what they preach. Hence necessary training and empowerment are part and parcel of the process of delivering evidence-based education.
The Link & Think methodology is designed to cover all areas of development. With years of research and experience, Q-dees has designed a number of proprietary programmes to help promote healthy brain development. These programmes include:
- Early Discovery Programme
- Mastery of Languages
- Logic & Scientific Discovery
- Creative Development
- Physical & Social Development
These programmes seek to make complex learning simple and fun. And each of them carries its own unique set of educational content, activities, and learning goals.
Learn how Q-dees’ award-winning Link & Think methodology helps preschool children use both their left and right brain.
From a very young age, children are ready and eager to learn. Hence playing the right cards to nurture that learning journey is crucial to developing their brain into one that is healthy. Both parents and educators share equal responsibility for shaping their future into one that is filled with opportunities.
Healthy brain development results from the dynamic interplay of nature and nurture. Nature refers to the social and physical environment that an infant spends their time in, consequently wiring the brain with specific pattern recognition and idiosyncrasies, that will be more prominent in later parts of their life.
Nurture, on the other hand, refers to infants understanding themselves and the ‘Nature’ they are in, through the types of interaction, governed by the five senses. It helps them learn better about themselves and their world through interactions.
Whether children are performing a logical or creative activity, inputs from both sides of the brain are received. To truly help children develop their brains and be the best version of themselves, always encourage activities that build their logical and creative thinking skills.