Bright yellow school buses on the roads again, reminding us all the school year has begun. Both children and parents enter a new school year full of expectation for our students. Many of those expectations will be met and great successes will abound. Sadly, some will not be met for a variety of reasons.
There has been much written about the hemispheres of our brain and the way they define our thinking style. Our left brain is the logical, analytical side of us, while the right is where creativity lies. While we use both sides of our brains for almost every task we do, each side of our brain has its area of specialty, which in turn influences the way we think. For children, brain dominance has a profound impact on school success. Understanding your child’s thinking style can help you be sure they are receiving the kind of instruction they need.
Art class is not just about art. Art and its foundational skill—drawing—is about reading and writing visually. When children learn to draw, they learn to see, evaluate and discern—visually. Many other subjects are affected by a child’s visual discernment and reading skills, such as math and reading.
Recently, I was invited to be part of a teacher in-service at a local Montessori pre-school. We met in the evening, after the children had gone home. As I entered the classroom, I saw shelves lined with familiar Montessori activities—all colorful, well-organized and designed to entice young learners. There is a special place in my heart for Montessori pre-schools, because their teaching method includes techniques and tools that work well for a multitude of learning styles, especially our visual and kinesthetic learners. Their engaging activities get the children interested but are also designed to help children develop discrimination, sequencing and organization skills that are critical to successful learning.
When I first set out to write Being Visual, I thought I was writing about my experience seeing the way art can be used to enhance learning. But while writing and researching, I had a very profound shift in my own understanding. I, like many others, thought learning was learning and art was there as a benefit—an enrichment. As an artist myself, I had always enjoyed participating in art class alongside my other studies. But, I now realize I had grossly underestimated the power and value of art as it relates to education.
It’s Saturday morning—time to take my grandson, Brayden, to the library for a new set of picture books. Oh, how he loves books! First, we go around the house gathering all the books we need to return. As we review them, Brayden has a bit of emotion about letting some of his favorites go, but is encouraged about finding new books—new “friends”. We jump in the car, drive over and enjoy the return process before heading in to select new friends to check out and take home.
Writing my book, Being Visual, has been a long and insightful labor. Now that it’s complete (to be published September 2012), I have been honored to speak and share what it’s like to be a visual-spatial learner, the struggles these visual kids face in our current education system and some suggestions of how to better reach them. A few days ago, I spoke to a group of businessmen and women that work in the field of education, and when I was finished speaking, I was thankful to have several people from the group share their thoughts with me.
Looking for local activities that cater to kids and families this summer? Look no further than your fingertips! The internet is a great resource for endless ideas of local fun in your community. Check out some of the great websites we found for cities around the nation: