Left Versus Right Brained Children – Differences In Learning Styles

****This is a guest post****

This article was written by Vicki Power. Vicki studied Psychology at Northern Arizona University and is particularly interested in the impacts of Brain Injuries on behaviour.

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Brain Awareness Week runs from Monday 11th March to Sunday 17th March. It is a concept thought up by Dana. Dana is a private organisation that was set up to carry out brain research. Brain Awareness Week is a global campaign that aims to increase awareness of the progress and development in brain research.

As a salute to Brain Awareness week I am looking at the information surrounding left and right brained children and how this impacts how they learn similar tasks.

The Studies

Studies have found that a dominance of one side of the brain or the other, effects how a person learns information and skills.

Most people fall very close to the middle, where the sides of the brain are almost equally balanced. However, some people exhibit signs of being predominately right or left brained. These people will show very obvious traits and this could influence how they learn and what tasks they excel at.

It is possible for a person to switch dominance following a traumatic brain Injury (TBI). It is often reported that a person’s personality has changed following a head trauma or concussion. Damage to the dominant side of the brain can cause the non-dominate side of the brain to become more active and as a result, there is a change in personality.

Left or Right Dominance and Education

It is natural for parents to worry about their children’s education and wonder if they are learning effectively, but, have you ever considered whether your child is predominately Right or Left brained and how this might influence how they learn?

Right Brain Dominant Children

The most famous of all highly recognised right brained individuals is Albert Einstein. As a child, Einstein was thought to have a learning disability due to him not being able to show his working out when completing mathematical equations, and as a result, he was home schooled by his mother.

Children who are predominately right brained tend to be more creative and have a highly active imagination. Right Brained children work in wholes, rather than parts, which is why Einstein was unable to break down the equations to show his working out, but, was ultimately coming up with the correct answer.

Other characteristics of a child who is favouring the right side of their brain:

  • Prefer to be shown how to do something rather than told
  • More likely to be good at sports, particularly sports that require spatial awareness i.e. Football or Rugby
  • Prefer group activities to working alone
  • A bit of a day dreamer
  • Like organising things to show relation i.e. Colour, size, shape
  • Lie down when doing activities i.e. reading, drawing, watching TV
  • Solve problems intuitively and with little order

Right brained individuals tend to pursue careers that do not require structure and use intuition:

  • Forest ranger
  • Working with Animals
  • Beautician
  • Politician
  • Athlete
  • Artist or designer
  • Craftsman
  • Actor/Actress

Left Brain Dominant Children

There tend to be more Left Brained people than right brained, which is why the majority of the education system is set up to cater for the learning style of Left brained children. A person favouring the left side of their brain will most likely score better on a written test than a person with the exact same IQ who favours the right side of the brain, just down to the way they interpret and remember information, not because they are more intelligent.

Other characteristics of a child who is favouring the left side of their brain:

  • Prefer verbal instructions i.e. lectures, seminars
  • Like to read
  • Need total quiet to perform an activity and get annoyed if they are spoken to or distracted
  • Usually do things in a planned orderly way i.e. start with the outside of a puzzle
  • Performs activities better sitting down i.e. reading, drawing, puzzles
  • Likes to be Organised i.e. Toys are often arranged in a specific order or tidy

Left brained individuals tend to pursue careers that require structure and precision:

  • Lab scientist
  • Banker
  • Judge
  • Lawyer
  • Mathematician
  • Bacteriologist
  • Librarian
  • Sports judge i.e. Skating Judge, Skiing Judge.

Teaching styles that help right brained children

As the majority of education in school is most effective for left brain dominant children, there are some teaching techniques that you can use at home to help your right-brained child to learn tasks that may be difficult for them.

Try using teaching techniques that involve objects and aids that can be touched and manipulated. Using real money or blocks when doing simple sums helps the child engage with the activity and help remain focused.

Use visual progress. Children who favour the right side of their brain work well to goals if they can see their progress on a visual display.

Right brained children lose focus easily. Using a spot light or a desk lamp can help them focus their attention easier. When the overhead light is on, there are many things in the room fighting for attention but using a spot light can help limit the distractions.

Use images and drawing whenever possible for solving problems. Get your right brained child to draw images that represent the elements of the equation. Right brained children work more effectively when they can visualise and be creative, so when learning it is best to use these strengths to aid non-creative activities such as Maths and science.

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Do you have a child who falls clearly on one side or the other? How have you picked up on this, and what challenges have you faced when it comes to learning and education?

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