Three Stages of Learning

For YEARS I believed that if a child wasn’t reading at or above grade level by the time they got to 3rd grade the chances of them making it to and succeeding in high school was very slim.  I NO LONGER believe this to be true, we must also take into consideration the child’s dominant learning style. Kids are individuals and amazingly unique.  I work with 4th and 5th grade kids who are well in to the Transition Stage (see below) and are finding their “sea legs” so to speak.  They are developing processes to support 2-D awareness as they feel more secure and ready to engage with the symbols (letters-connected to sounds) of reading!  Take a look at the chart (below) for a simple but detailed explanation as to how left-brained learners develop differently from right-brained learners.

Taken gratefully from Cindy Gaddis’ wonderful book:  The Right Side of Normal; Understanding and Honoring the Natural Learning Path for Right-Brained Children, 2012.


3 Stages of Learning Table

Foundation Stage (5 to 7 Years)

The ages of 5 to 7 are best focused on the universal gifts of each type of learner. Because the left-brained child enjoys sequential, symbolic, word-based activities, she’s ready to tackle reading and beginning arithmetic (addition/subtraction) at the ages of 5 to 7. Because they are part-to-whole word-based learners, left-brained children can learn spelling and writing alongside reading. A right-brained learner is gifted in imaginative, three-dimensional, picture-based activities, so instead enjoys history, science, geography, social studies, (see Chapter Sixteen) and the creative outlets (see Chapter Six) as his foundation during this time.


Transition Stage (8 to 10 Years)

Around the ages of 8 to 10, the left-brained learner sequentially improves in reading and tackling higher arithmetic (multiplication/division). Left-brained children learn best with part-to-whole sequential processes using memorization as a primary tool. They have the ability to show their work as they go. Creative thinking is integrated through higher level spelling and writing ability, reading comprehension skills, and math story problems. The right-brained learner will shift into the two-dimensional, symbolic realm to begin learning to read and tackle beginning arithmetic. A deeper understanding of the previous subjects occurs during this 8 to 10 year stage for the right-brained child, as well as development of higher skill levels in the creative outlets.


Integration Stage (11 to 13 Years)

As left-brained learners reach the full integration stage and use the weaker hemisphere strengths more reliably, they’re ready to develop the global concept strengths of right-brained learners by studying subjects like history and science and taking the other subjects to the highest level. Right-brained learners will more fully integrate the strengths of the left-brained learner: reading (by achieving fluency) and higher arithmetic. This is when the word focus of spelling and writing is tackled as a separate subject from reading because they use completely different techniques to achieve success. Right-brained children learn best with whole-to-part conceptual processes using association as a primary tool. They enjoy various imaginative tools such as mnemonics and the ability to intuitively discover ideas through holistic imagery.