Each year, as we glide out of winter and begin to move into spring the pressure seems to mount in terms of student expectations for progress in school. This is especially true for kids who are performing below grade level in any or all subject areas. If you’ve read any of the posts on this blog or if you’ve done your own research and study on the differences in learning styles then you already know how important it is that these expectations be adjusted for our amazing right-brained learners.
There is a natural process of learning development for right-brained and left-brained children that matters when we set expectations for progress, especially in the early elementary years. Children move through Learning Stages and by the time they are into early adolescence, integration ultimately takes place because the established dominant brain preference increasingly integrates the opposite brain specialties so the learner becomes competent in more subjects. So it WILL happen! Most importantly, if they’ve had a positive experience overall in their educational career up until that point, they will be successful as they move through the secondary grade levels.
Because the left and right hemispheres of the brain are mirror images of each other, each specializing in something different, it makes sense that the educational paths for left- and right-brained learners are opposites of each other. The time frame that schools utilize in teaching various subjects aligns with the left-brained learner stages of learning. My experience has shown that right-brained learners acquire subject matter in a different learning pattern than their left-brained counterparts.
In her amazing book titled, The Right Side of Normal, Cindy Gaddis has identified the time frames of three stages of learning, depicted in the charts below.
If you’re the parent of a right-brained child please know that there’s nothing “wrong” with them… they just learn differently than they’re most likely being taught. Schools traditionally teach in a more left-brained structure which obviously supports a left-brained learning style. And if you’re not sure where your child falls on the learning style spectrum I invite you to review the “Learning Style Questionnaire” I’ve posted on this blog. I also encourage you to read: Is Your Child A Right-Brained Learner?.
Take some time to reflect…. How do your children learn? What languages do they use to express themselves and their understandings? Do they like to represent their ideas through building and drawing? Or are they logical and deliberate; creating lists, following steps, practicing their handwriting and creating plans? Maybe they express themselves through writing, or through music and dance?
Maybe they need to move their whole bodies; and so find sitting still difficult, preferring instead to create bold strokes with a paintbrush or delve their fingers deep into a lump of clay or mud! Or maybe, instead of completing writing practice sheets, they prefer to label drawings and write letters, or take on a more sensory approach; writing letters and words with water.
And speaking as an educator to other educators, we need to take time to really observe the children we teach; learn about how they learn, and engage in a continual dialogue of reflection so we can teach so they can learn. If that means changing our entire style of teaching, then so be it! It’s their learning after all.
YOU are your child’s greatest advocate! It is imperative that you know how your child learns best and ASK that appropriate accommodations be made to support your brilliant child as they progress through their school career. I also encourage you to read the posts I’ve written here on this blog as they will give you information as to how your child learns best as well as what you should expect from your child in terms of progress through the early years and how you can be empowered to advocate for what’s best for them.
I’m working diligently to reeducate and help educators understand these learning style differences and I hope you’ll join me in this effort. In the end, I’m here for YOU. I offer tutoring/intervention services to support kids who learn differently and I LOVE what I do! I will advocate for you and your child as well, so never hesitate to reach out for my help and support.