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  • Writer's pictureNandi Lovejoy

Nurturing the Right Brain

During the first seven years of life, young children feel at one with everything and naturally respond with empathy. They engage with the world from a ‘right-brain’ state, primarily through their bodies and their emotions. They eagerly “tuck the babies in bed” and “park the cars in the garage” at clean-up time because the right brain thinks in pictures. They joyfully put their shoes on when we sing “One little shoe for each foot too. Almost ready. How about you?” because the right brain is musical. They are satisfied with open-ended, creative explanations such as “the sun goes to sleep each night just like you” because the right brain wonders; it daydreams. They are content to pour water back and forth, back and forth between two watering cans because the right brain is process-oriented and totally present in the now moment.

When we adults prematurely engage children through the logical left brain with words, reason, and linear explanations, children often respond with confusion and/or rebellion.

They do not understand our focus on outcomes because they live in the present moment.

We can support their innate desire to be cooperative, joyful, and active participants in the world around them by waiting until age 7 to engage the left brain. Save logical directives such as “clean your room” and cause and effect reasoning such as “after you put your shoes on we can go see the trains” until after age 7. Never mind, for now, that the purpose of filing the watering can is to water the flowers.

Relax and just take in your child’s wonder at the movement, texture, and sound of water.

Young children’s earliest experiences create patterns that shape their relationship to learning. As teachers and parents, we can support experiences that are harmonious and fulfilling by engaging and nurturing the right brain or we can inadvertently become obstacles to their learning by prematurely engaging the left brain. Meeting young children in the realm of the right brain conveys that we understand their perspective and honor their development. They respond with trust in our ability to facilitate their learning experiences.

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