While you’re finishing family dinner, your child has quickly organized and described how his food is positioned on his plate according to color. When at school, he’s ready to answer every question with the right answer and can’t get enough of working through interesting and challenging problems. Sounds like you have a left-brain dominant child in your home.Just like the majority of the population, your child favors his logical and objective left-brain over his creative and freethinking right brain. Although our bodies use both sides of our brains to make decisions and perform daily functions, we all seem to lean to one side or the other. And, there is not one that is better or worse, just different. Every parent wants their child to succeed and excel in school and his future ventures, so finding more information on how to tap into his best way of learning, and helping him remember the importance of his creative right brain is key.
Left Brain Characteristics
The brain is cut in half creating the right and left-brain. The sides work together to create a complete human being, but certain individuals do find one side more dominant than the other. Left brain children may desire to spend time learning on their own, creating charts or detailed notes instead of making interesting projects, and totally don’t feel they are the next great artist. The creative right brain is more than happy taking a step back and letting the logical left take over, but tapping into all the wonderful right-brain qualities is essential for developing young children.
Along with being considered left-brain dominant, your child may be thought of as an auditory learner, or someone who prefers learning through listening. There are three types of learning, visual, auditory, and kinetic. Right brain dominant children may lean toward being visual and kinetic learners, where left-brain leaning children truly gain more knowledge through listening to lectures and hearing detailed instructions. Kinetic learners gain knowledge through doing and visual through looking and visualizing. Often left brain dominant children feel comfortable talking things out, talking about the things they like, and talking in general, which sometimes makes it challenging to encourage them to listen to others for a change.
Learning with a Left Brained Child
Now that you have determined that your child is leaning more toward his left-brain than his right, there are ways to encourage his learning, and also train his brain to let loose that creative right brain at helpful times.
- Even though your child may seem comfortable talking all about what he knows, help him use that creative right brain and really enhance his learning by encouraging him to turn those important facts he needs to remember into a song. Writing and singing a song taps into your child’s brain in a different way, causing that left-brain to give the right brain a chance at showing its abilities.
- Left-brain learners often find working alone and in silence to be the most comfortable, so why not try something different? The next time your child has important facts or vocabulary words he needs to remember, have him create a colorful collage. He can look through magazines until he finds images that connect with what he is learning and use markers to incorporate the important facts into his artwork. While he’s working, play classical music, helping connect his left and right brain while creating.
- According to Dr. Dianne Connell, left-brain dominant children may become frustrated when given open-ended assignments and find ways to avoid doing them altogether. The next time your child is feeling overwhelmed with a visual-spatial activity, such as creating a model of the solar system, help ease the confusion by talking through the project and creating a detailed chart with the steps for the assignment clearly stated. This will encourage your child to stay on task without fear of failure.
- Offer your left-brain learner a small recorder he can use to gather snippets of information he hears around him, or to interview friends and family about a topic he is researching. Before recording, encourage your child to ask permission, especially at school. Taping the lectures, important information, and conversations he hears around him allows him to listen to all the beneficial facts later, tapping into his auditory learning style. He can create lists or charts with the information he gathered to assist him with completing his assignment.
- In the classroom, offer left-brain learners the opportunity to work individually on assignments so each child has the option to complete tasks in silence and at their own pace. Including charts, visuals, and detailed notes on the front board benefits all children, and also offers the left-brain dominant child helpful information to aid in their learning.
Offer your left-brain learner lots of praise and find insightful ways to encourage his creativity. The more comfortable he feels expressing himself artistically through the use of his right brain, the more often he will do so!
By Sarah Lipoff. Sarah is an art educator and parent. Visit Sarah’s website here.