I have tremendous affection and respect for right brain creative kids and adults. We’re enormously valuable thinkers, with boundless gifts and abilities, but are highly misunderstood, undervalued and often made to feel like we are less than. To increase understanding on who we are as thinkers and students, I’m doing a 6-month series on what it means to be a right brain thinker. I’ll share on the science of how our brain works, what we need at school, at home, the connection to ADD/ADHD and techniques and tools we can use to make life easier, while we enjoy and celebrate being who we are.
Let’s get started by understanding what it the left and right side of the brain do:
The brain is divided into two halves, that work together on everything, but each side does have unique set of skills that complement each other. We’re designed for balance but tend to have a dominant side, meaning our brain defaults to using that side more than the other. If your child is a right brain dominant thinker, they are perfect the way they are. By understanding how the right brain thinks, we can better understand them in school and at home, while finding ways to develop and enhance their natural gifts. And the more we understand our right brain kids, the more we can celebrate the rock stars they really are.
The left side asks how? How do we make it? How do we do it? Measure it? Build it?
Right side looks for meaning. It wants to know why are we doing it? What else could we do? What else might we need? Is there another way?
To get things done, you’re going to need to measure, plan, organize and track it. Left side is your computer, calculator and calendar. It keeps information, dates, times and activity neatly organized and easy to access and remember.
The right side is home to our emotions, people and relationships. The right side is about the humanities like; art, literature, philosophy, history. The brain seeks information and experiences about being human and asks questions about the world. The right side is about our hearts and the human experience.
The language of the left brain is words. It thinks, understands, responds to and memorizes words. When we read words, we read them in a logical, linear, one word at a time, sequential order. We must get to the end of the sentence to know what sentence was about. This logical, orderly thinking permeates everything the left side does. Most of our education is based on this kind of thinking.
The language of the right is images. Pictures. It thinks, sees and remembers what it sees. This includes 3 dimensional ‘seeing’, resulting in strong visual-spatial skills. When we see something, we see it all at once. Instantaneously. The right brain sees the big picture first, details later. This thinking permeates everything the right side does. It’s instantaneous, holistic, big picture, visual, spatial, all at once kind of thinking. This is not compatible with majority of what we do at school.
Like real computers, the left side of the brain has much needed hard skills. Its strength is logical, linear thinking, focus, organization, attention to detail and time management. These are executive function skills, needed for school and life in general.
Our right side is home to our imaginations. It’s creative, playful and full of ideas. Because of its strong spatial skills, it’s not concerned or limited by time or space. Visual–spatial skills allow the mind to see, quite literally, new ideas, new solutions to problems, new inventions, new ways of doing things.
Left brain dominant minds excel academically. First because it’s all about words. And the logical, linear thought process thinking aligns with current education methods. The left side organizes and memorizes information in a way that’s easy to retrieve for testing. It likes listening, lecture, one right answer type thinking.
The right side of us is about creative thinking. Not just for doing or making art but for connecting disparate thoughts and subjects to arrive at new ideas. And not just one idea. The right side is an idea factory. Ride brain dominant minds thrive on activity and learning that includes doing, making and creating.
The right side of the mind was designed as a perfect compliment to the left. In fact, there are scientists and educators that believe the right side of us should be getting a lot more credit and development than is currently happening. For now, take our quiz to see which side is your child’s dominant side. If you have a right brain child, please take time to think more about who your child is as a right brain thinker, and celebrate their strengths.