Left Brain-Right Brain Balance to Enhance the Ability to Identify Meaning

There has been a great deal of discussion, research, and decisions made based on how to elevate the cognition of young children, and older adults. Terms like left-brain and right-brain have been used, and thankfully, the term whole brain has also emerged. Related to this, is the work of Dr. Daniel Siegel of UCLA, and the author of Mindsight.

Left-Brain work is typically seen as logical and structured processes of the brain. Right-Brain work is typically seen as the creative endeavors of the brain. Of course, both are necessary. Dr. Siegel’s work bridges left-brain and right-brain in a general sense. In his book, Mindsight, he discusses and demonstrates how the prefrontal cortex of the brain (the part in your forehead), has the ability to take the lead, as compared to the older parts of the brain, and in doing so, help us evolve emotionally and otherwise.

What does this all mean for our work with young learners? In very simple terms, this is what I believe to be critical with our work in classrooms and at home with children:

  • Offer organizational/structured experiences

  • Offer unstructured experiences

  • Use logically intended questions which have a number of finite answers

  • Use open ended questions which have an infinite number of answers

  • Offer children the opportunity to lead all of the above experiences

  • Know that the study of music is the ultimate left-brain AND right-brain experience

In general, we need to get away from thinking about left-brain vs. right-brain, and we want to think about whole-brain experiences, such as remembering that...

musical study is the rolls-royce of learning experiences because it engages the whole brain.

There are other experiences which offer whole brain engagement. They all share one thing in common…

The most effective whole brain experiences are play-based in nature

For example, the following are play-based whole brain experiences:

  • Games which require logical thought, risk, and physical interaction of some kind.

  • Food related experiences which require known and unknown flavors and ingredients.

  • Travel (actual and virtual) which involves new experiences.

Engage the entire brain of young learners, and while you’re at it, remember to engage your own! Lol