Right Brain, Left Brain, Whole Brain

Some kids are right-brain dominant. They’re creative. They think out of the box.  They dance and do art. They usually don’t like math.

Other kids are left-brain dominant. They take things apart to figure out how they work. They like order. They think about things and ask lots of questions. Math is often their favorite subject.

Nothing wrong with this, except that school is generally a left-brain dominant institution, especially as kids progress on to high school and then college. Although we’re getting better at teaching to individual differences in grade school, left-brain teaching remains the norm in high school.

Left-brain teaching is linear. Lists to learn and memorize. Teachers talk. Kids write it down. Teachers have a plan. Kids follow the plan. Whoa there. You’ve just lost all those right-brain kids. Now they get poor grades. They’re labeled with a learning disability. Maybe they get in trouble. Probably somebody thinks they have ADHD.

And teachers report more and more right-brain dominant kids in their classrooms.  So how will these kids succeed in high school and college? And what if they want to go on to medical school, law school, maybe become engineers?  How can we help them?

Learning to use the whole brain solves the problem. Learning how to diminish right-brain or left-brain dominance so they’re using both sides equally.  So what does this mean? And how do you do it?

First, let’s take a look first at how the frontal lobes of the brain’s neocortex work. This is the part of the brain right behind your forehead. The left side and the right side are connected by a fibrous band in the middle called the “corpus callosum.” In order to use both sides of the brain, neurons on the left side have to be connected to neurons on the right side. In other words, the electrical charge between brain cells has to pass across the corpus callosum. O.K. that’s the theory part.

Now the action part. How do you get this neuronal pattern? How do you get these synapses across the corpus callosum?  It’s really quite simple. Every time you cross your body’s midline, you make neuronal patterns between the right and left side. Right-brain dominant kids are now able to use more of their left brain.  And left-brain dominant kids able to use more of their right brain.

Just get them moving. Walking while swinging their arms. Skipping. Playing ball. Dancing. Running. Since moving is key, perhaps we’re seeing more right-brain dominant kids because kids are less active.

Get kids doing Brain Gym’s cross crawl. It’s like marching in place. You can do it sitting or standing. Raise your right leg and touch your knee with your left elbow. Now left leg up and touch with right elbow.  How many variations on this can you and your kids invent. Be sure to use music. Makes it more fun. How slowly can you do it?  Slowly gives you more brain integration and better balance.

Now those right-brain dominant kids can get through math after all. The left-brain dominant kids can show their creative, artsy side.  The ADHD kids are more focused. And everybody has fun.

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