Early Childhood Education: The Right Brain Movement
Maria Montessori talked about the "absorbent mind" - a period in early childhood when a child's brain was most open to taking in information and when learning was easiest for a child. Glenn Doman initiated the "gentle revolution" when he applied a developmental "catch up" program for brain damaged children on healthy children and started teaching babies to read, do math, swim and many other amazing feats. Clearly, there is something amazing about early childhood that we need to understand and learn how to develop if we want our children to maximise their potential.
Makoto Shichida discovered that it was the influence of the right brain in early childhood that accounted for the demonstration of such amazing abilities in young children. Even before Orstein and Sperry's landmark research that revealed the remarkable differences in personality between the left and right brain, Shichida had been emphasising the importance of harnessing the innate abilities of the right brain.
Children are born demonstrating right brain dominance. This dominance is seen in the first three years of life. Thereafter, the left brain begins to emerge. Between 3 to 6 years, there is a transition between right brain dominance to left brain dominance. By the time a child is 6 years old, the transition is complete and the left brain becomes dominant.
Why is the Right Brain so Important?
Why is the right brain so important and why do we need to take advantage of it when a child is so young?
According to cerebral physiologist Dr Yoshiya Shinagawa, the learning ratio between the right brain and left brain is one to a million. Makoto Shichida believes it is important to develop a child's potential as early as possible because the first three years of life is when a child learns the fastest, is capable of absorbing enormous amounts of information, and is extremely eager to learn. By the time a child is 6 years old, 70% of the brain has been developed. By age 10, it is 90% developed. Attempting to make corrections and changes by this age is not only difficult but a lot of effort is required.
The Law of Diminishing Ability
Shichida believes that all children have the potential to draw out six special innate abilities:
- Superb intuition
- Photographic memory
- Computer-like calculations
- Perfect pitch in music
- Multi-language acquisition
- Image healing
The law of diminishing ability states that an infant's magical ability diminishes if it is not stimulated.
Most of us assume that a 4 year old child is smarter than a 3 year old, while a 5 year old child is smarter than a 4 year old. This is inaccurate. A 2 year old child has the capacity to learn faster than a 3 year old, and a 1 year old can learn faster than a 2 year old. Therefore, if you do not take advantage of a baby's amazing learning ability, you are wasting his or her potential.
Babies Love to Learn
The most common misconception among adults is that early childhood education is stressful to young child. Comments such as, "she's just a child, let her have some fun," are common viewpoints. That is because adults do not think as babies do. Babies are not only ready to learn, they love to learn.
Starting young is the best possible time to begin an educational program because what we perceive to be hard work and difficult is fun and easy for a baby. So why delay it to a time when learning becomes harder, more time consuming and stressful?
The Power of the Right Brain
By helping to develop the right brain during the critical early years, we can help to make learning in later life much easier for a child.
"Once the pathways are established for right-brain functioning, a child can learn anything." - Professor C. Matthews
Developing the right brain early also helps a child to achieve amazing abilities, such as speed reading, photographic memory, perfect pitch, etc. These are abilities that will help that child excel later in life.
"I can copy a page into my head if I look at it for an instant, I then read it in my head, even though the book is closed." - Mihara, 7 years old.
Right brain development isn't only about excelling at academics. Right brain education can help a child excel in all areas of life - for instance, sports:
"...I can see the moves of my partners in advance. Here are some examples. When I play basketball... I can predict, most of the time, the next moves of teammates and opponents. When I play baseball and get to be in the batter box, I can predict the pitcher's moves and act accordingly. If I image the outcome before I hit or throw, things will turn out just as I have imaged. In Taekwondo classes... I know where my partner is going to attack and dodge accordingly." - Hirata Hayato.
Left Brain versus Right Brain
What are the differences between the left brain and right brain?
The left brain:
- is responsible for conscious awareness
- processes logical thought
- provides short-term memory
- takes in information slowly
- likes detailed analysis
- works in a linear, sequential fashion
- requires reason – why?
- favours learning through the physical senses – touch, feel, sight, taste, hear
- learns through repetition
- uses words, lists, and numbers
- processes data one at a time
- is practical and works well under stress
The right brain:
- is responsible for subconscious awareness
- processes abstract thought
- provides long-term memory
- takes in information rapidly
- is photographic – whole-picture comprehension
- works in creative, imaginative ways
- favours intuition
- soaks up information like a sponge
- uses rhythm, shapes and picture images
- processes data all at once
- is emotional, works best when fully relaxed
What is Right Brain Education?
Right brain education involves a series of fun activities performed with young children that helps to develop their right brain. Some of these activities include:
- mandala exercises
- linking memory
- image training
- observation training
- peg memory
- speed reading
The forerunners in right brain education for early childhood are Shichida, Heguru, and TweedleWink. Shichida and Heguru are similar in concepts having had the same origins. TweedleWink, which came much later, adopts a slightly different philosophy. Which school is best depends on which school your child responds to. The fundamental requirement in right brain education is for a child to be happy and feel loved because the emotional right brain thrives in such environments. Without positive emotions, learning is stifled in the right brain.
Visit Figur8 to learn more about Right Brain Development.