The neo-cortex (think of it as the massive learning engine part of the brain) is divided into two halves; the right hand side, which controls the left side of the body, and the left hand side, which controls the right side of the body. These two halves of the brain are joined by a network of fibres, which act as a type of ‘bridge’ across both sides. This ‘bridge’ of fibres allows each side of the brain to ‘talk’ or ‘consult’ with each other. Learning in children becomes much more efficient when this communication between the two halves of the brain happens.
We all have one particular side of the brain which is usually prevailing, but in order to maximise the potential for learning, children should be encouraged and guided into using the whole of their brain whenever possible. It is important for them to both know and understand which side of their brain needs to be used when undertaking certain types of activities and problem solving tasks, and also that they will learn best when both sides of their brain are working together.
Left Brain Learning
The left hand side of the brain is the part that tends to govern logic and order. It is the part that children will use when learning and dealing with facts, when reading a text, when they are using language and when working with numbers. They would use this half of the brain when asked to solve a logical maths problem, for instance, or when planning a science investigation. Children who are left side dominant will probably like to be very neat, tidy and quite well organised. They will usually follow rules without too much trouble and will like to plan well.
Right Brain Learning
The right hand side of the brain is the half that governs aspects of thinking such as creativity and imagination. It is the part that children will commonly use when engaging in activities such as playing sport, dancing, drawing and making music. Children will need to utilise this side of the brain when they are composing a song, painting or drawing a picture or designing something. Children who are right side dominant are much more likely to be risk takers than their ‘lefty’ counterparts. They may tend to be a little more disorganised, have a propensity to daydream frequently and will not be short of original and creative ideas.
So, thinking about all of the above in the context of children and learning, we should strive to encourage them to work in both words and pictures, to be both creative and ordered, to use numbers and colours and to have both busy and quite times.