My tot is only three and she’s in love with coloring, coloring, painting, coloring, cooking, imaginary play, and more painting. I often hear the, “Oh my gosh, she’s just like you” comment, along with the, “You’re so lucky she is so creative!” Well, am I? The thing is, I’m hyper-creative. While writing this I’m also thinking about what I’m going to cook for dinner, that the downstairs hallway needs painting, how I’d like to do a finger paint canvas project with the tot, and how cool it would be to make a soap dish from a cabbage leaf pressed in clay.
I’m a bit ADHD right-brain creative.
Along with having all these awesome ideas running through my head, I’ve got life to contend with. Often my ideas are a flash and then gone.
I also can’t add without using my fingers.
Creative kids often struggle with logical real world stuff. The right-brain is hardwired to indulge creative thought, pushing that mathematical, sensible, and reasonable left-brain to the background. Encouraging creativity is important for all – but sometimes it is important to make sure those that are creative are getting a bit of that logical left to balance things out.
The Right-Brain Dominant Child
A child’s brain is an amazing thing with areas in charge of logical thought, which may not be used as often as parents (and teachers) would like, and also creativity. The brain is divided into two hemispheres – the right and the left. The left side of the brain is dominant over the right side of the body and the right over the left. This means left-handed individuals are thought to be right-brain dominant, but it is not always the case. Before labeling a child as a right-brain learner, remember that the entire brain works together to create a complete human being, but many do have tendencies toward a specific half.
When a child seems to excel in the creative arts, is excited about doing hands-on activities, and exploring and experimenting, the right side of the brain is probably dominant over the left. Several developmental characteristics are often associated with right-brain learners such as higher levels of creativity and language skills. Along with these positive attributes, right-brain dominant kids are often thought unorganized and easily distracted.
A right-brain dominant child may also be classified as a visual- spatial learner, which means the brain taps into learning through visual clues, the child prefers information given all at once, and learns through doing not observing. Those long mathematical problems or activities that follow multi-step directions may cause a right-brained child to tune out. In a perfect world, children would be taught in ways most appropriate for their learning style, but with a majority of the population leaning toward being left-brain dominant, a more structured, linear, and goal-oriented way of education prevails. This causes many a teacher to feel a child isn’t able to perform as well as other children without realizing that it may have more to do with how the information is presented.
Learning with a Right-Brained Child
Now that you have determined you have a right-brained child, what is the next step? There are simple ways to encourage your child to tap into both sides of the brain, which not only allows the dominant side to shine, but balances the whole being.
– Use your child’s creativity to help utilize left-brain strengths. Most right-brain dominant children enjoy learning through doing. Turn the next challenging math assignment into a creative experience by encouraging brain to think in different ways. Spend time talking through the assignment with your child, or even act out ideas, and encourage taking notes to help remember details later. Not only does this help keep things on track, but encourages the linear left-brain to work alongside the creative right.
– When your child is ready to get working, encourage solo work time. Often right-brained children enjoy working with others, which may lead to wonderful and exciting learning opportunities within the classroom, but can take a child off-task when completing homework. Tap into the left-brain by giving your child quiet space to focus on the task at hand. When a task is completed, celebrate with an engrossing and engaging game or activity that rewards all that hard work.
– Use your child’s visual brain to its best by encouraging learning through using color. When studying for an upcoming spelling test offer your child a pre-test and then focus on the words that were challenging. The HSLDA (Home Schooling Legal Defense Association) suggest writing out the misspelled words on cards with the letters that are incorrect in a different color. For instance, if your child writes Saturday as “Saterday” write the correct letters in black and the incorrect “e” as a “u” but in red. Help your child make the flash cards together to encourage the left and right brain to work together.
– Take your time – and encourage your child to do the same. Visual-spatial learners do not work well under pressure. Although, in most cases, school tests are timed, while at home, offer your child as much time as needed to get work done. If your child is challenged with an activity, encourage drawing a picture or creating charts to show visualization the activity. Offer assistance and encouragement without judgment or getting frustrated if things are taking a bit longer than desired.
– When in the classroom, offer the right-brain dominant child lots of opportunities for visual learning, which means including charts in lectures and visuals when discussing an assignment, such as pictures of birds when learning about migration. All children enjoy looking at visuals when learning, so including additional images as often as possible only aides in everyone’s education.
Having a right-brained dominant child may seem like a roller coaster at times, with moments of total excitement and crashes with great disappointments. Working with your child is key, no matter the learning style, which encourages positive learning for years to come.