Awaken the Genius in your Child with Left Brain and Right Brain Development
The joy and stress of lives – our children come in all types. Some kids grow up to be good athletes, some good musicians, some may be great at writing, you never really know what to expect out of your child. As a parent, you may have observed that some children may not really be excited about doing a creative activity and try to rush through a project or complain “I cannot draw”. In contrast, other children may be quite passionate about creative activities. Some adults may not comprehend their child’s unusual fascination with wearing matching clothing all the time or having to do an activity only in a particular manner or sequence.
Though baffling, this behavior of children has more to do with the brain than one may think. A child’s brain simply lets the dominant side of the brain take over, and does not blend with the other side to reach its full capability.
However, did you know that each child is a natural genius, born with innate creativity, curiosity, imagination, playfulness, wisdom, wonder, and many other qualities besides these? Each child is born as smart as Einstein, as great an artist like Picasso, and as good an athlete as Bolt. These genius abilities remain asleep throughout the child’s life and need to be awakened in our children.
Creativity and Brain
A human brain is separated or divided into two hemispheres – the left and right. The left side of the brain is dominant over the right side and the right side of the brain controls the left side of the body. The left side manages the language, math, sequencing, and rational thoughts, while the right side of the brain takes charge of the social, visual, creative skills, and intuition.
As most children are comfortable using their right hand, their journey begins as being left-brain dominant while not tapping into their right-brain capabilities. If the right side of the brain is stimulated, then we could integrate or blend both the left as well as the right brain hemispheres and reach our full potential. This is a fact that most adults forget as they are dominated by the left side of their brains themselves. Being left side dominated is the cause for lack of imaginative and inventive stimulation for growing children.
What Happens as Our Children Grow?
As our children reach the age of two, their brain starts eliminating the unused abilities. This process is termed as “synaptic pruning.”
Let us consider the example of Leonardo da Vinci who was one of the greatest minds to have lived in our world. While he is best known for painting the “Mona Lisa”, he is also one of history’s greatest inventors, engineers, anatomists, mathematicians, and botanists, with a huge number of inventions to his credit. He is someone who is considered to be a polymathic genius – a person who excels in various fields all at once.
Every healthy child is born with an intelligence level higher than even that of da Vinci. However, as children grow older, they begin to lose their abilities at a fast pace, eventually fitting into the mold of what we term as the “average”. While there is nothing wrong with being average, why not try and push our children to achieve something beyond average?
Left Brain or Right Brain: Encouraging Creativity and the Whole Brain
As parents, we can observe how a child responds to different situations, and this can enable us to understand which side of the brain is more dominant in our child. Diane Connell, Ed.D, has found that a child who prefers to work alone and finds analyzing and researching facts exciting is dominated by the left-side of his/her brain. Whereas children who are right-brain dominant prefer hands-on activities and art projects over doing research and writing projects.
The Neuro-Psychiatry Reviews state that “the frontal lobe is the portion of the cortex that is essential for creativity, and is vital for divergent thinking”. The manner in which friends and family encourage the growth of the frontal lobe boosts divergent and independent thought processes. Divergent thinking inspires kids to view things differently and such children use creative thought processes in a manner that motivates them to ask several questions.
So, the question is, how should you encourage right-brain thinking in your child?
Betty Edwards, an art teacher who has authored the book “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain”, has developed different ways to tap into one’s hidden creativity and stop the “I cannot draw” stigma.
Encouraging a child to be right-brain dominant could easily be achieved by doing some creative activities that do not frustrate or intimidate left-brain learners. A right-brain dominant child may also need some help in getting enthusiastic about doing some research on a project or finding ways to clean and organize his/her room.
Also, visual stimulation is essential, sounds are vital, and so is the smell. Get your child to recognize different smells. Each and every activity encouraged with sensory inputs add to both sides of the brain’s functioning. Art in itself gives a child’s visual cortex and frontal lobe a boost, which in turn averts the synaptic pruning process.
You must remember that one kid in school who was great in sports? Or the other child who always topped the class effortlessly? This was not because of their genes; it was because these kids unknowingly or knowingly developed these skills before the synaptic pruning process in their brain eliminated these abilities forever.
Discovering ways to boost the use of both sides of the brain enables a person to achieve his/her full potential. Thus, it is not really a question of either/or – left brain or right brain.
Some Activities for Children that Helps in Left and Right Brain Development
- Left-Brain: Use different colors of construction paper to create a cut-paper-designed collage that encourages hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills. Before starting a creative project, discuss the activity, and this will help the child to think about the big picture. Discuss the possible patterns the child can create and how simple or difficult each pattern could be. Having a child work quietly also encourages left-brain thinking. Provide the child with rulers, pencils, scissors, erasers, and pastels to use while designing the pattern collage. This appeals to the left-brain’s craving for linear creation and order.
- Right-brain: Take a picture from a magazine that fascinates the child. Use a scale to cut-off a 3 by 3-inch part of the picture and then cut the rest away. Now, encourage your child’s right-brain to take control and come up with creative decisions through reconstructing a small portion of the picture. When a child is not really sure of what he/she is drawing, the left brain is tricked into feeling that the activity is not important and worth its effort. This is when the right brain takes control. Offer the child oil pastels for sketching along with a 9 by 9-inch piece of drawing paper instead of using a pencil. Also, try and play some music as the child draws and provide support as needed.
With just a little bit of conscious efforts in our parenting styles, we parents have multiple opportunities to help our babies become experts without pressurizing them. Also, no matter how old the child is, spend time looking at, talking about, and making art; this stimulates the child’s visual cortex and frontal lobe and helps the left-brain and right-brain to work together.
Frequently Asked Questions
So, when do babies lose their incredible brain abilities?
Once a baby turns two years old, his/her brain becomes seventy-five percent of an adult brain – which is not equal to the size of their small body type. The brain thus seeks to become more efficient and starts the synaptic pruning process, whereby it quickly starts pruning (eliminating) neural connections present in the brain that it considers unnecessary. This means that the brain starts shedding the abilities it was born with because it feels that the body does not need it anymore, and this is when babies start losing their genius capabilities.
Is there anything that parents can do to avert synaptic pruning?
Absolutely! Parents can utilize various methods to expose all the unbelievable abilities in their child to grow fundamentally strong creativity, athleticism, and intelligence. With just five to ten minutes of effort daily, parents can enable their kids to develop a superior mental math ability, near-photographic memory, excellent reading skills, pitch-perfect music skills, first principles thinking, among many others. All this can be accomplished with simple programs that can be done by parents from the comfort of their homes, without exposing their children to mobile apps or computer screens. Children who undergo such training in their formative years have superior capabilities for life.