by Dr Shen-Li Lee
Differences between the left brain and right brain
Left brain is the language brain. It is:
- small quantity
- processes one by one
Right brain is the image brain. It is:
- large quantity
- automatic processing using images
In right brain education, there are a few points to take note of when practicing the activities that help to develop the right brain:
- Relax! When practicing right brain activities at home, make sure you are relaxed and comfortable. If you feel stressed, your child will feel stressed and he will not be able to open his right brain when he is stressed.
- Speed is of the essence – the faster you flash the cards, the better. Current pace in Heguru is three cards per second. The speed during home practice will be slower and that is fine. Do not increase the speed if it means compromising on the first point. One card per second is fine for home practice.
- Quantity over quality – the right brain is an image brain so you need to stimulate it with lots and lots of images. Show each set of flashcards a maximum of four times then change the set. Aim to flash 100-150 cards a day.
Is it too late for my child?
This is a general concern from many parents who discover right brain education late. The idea behind right brain education is to begin as early as possible, however, it is not too late even if your child is already 6 years old. According to Mrs Henmi who teaches students in Japan all the way up to 20 years old, the window of opportunity to develop the right brain is open up until 12 years old. Beyond 12 years old, they don’t really see a lot more development. What they do with students after 12 years old is they teach them how to apply their right brain to their everyday life.
10 Rules for Developing the Right Brain
Believe one can only produce up to the capacity of belief. In other words, you have to believe in your child’s ability or you’re setting him up for failure. You also have to believe in the program or you might as well not be there.
Attend lessons to open the right brain.
Read stories to your child – reading is one of the four conditions for bringing out your child’s genius. When you read to your child, read with emotion and lots of expression.
Stay beside the student whose right brain has developed. This is the theory of talent formation – there is a radar effect from the child who has developed his right brain (Shichida wrote about this in his book “Right Brain Education in Infancy”). The right brain learns by observation. The left brain learns on its own.
Do fun and exciting things – your child must be happy in order to open the right brain. When your child is not happy, what he learns does not enter the right brain and you’re back to left brain development.
Develop the left brain gently. The misconception with right brain education is that we want to suppress the left brain development. That is not true. The left brain needs to be developed alongside the right brain because left brain development strengthens the right brain. Right brain education isn’t purely right brain education, it is whole brain education.
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Self-esteem – you need to develop your chlid’s self-esteem. Do not scold your child because of “lack of ability”, discipline because of misbehaviour. Set clear boundaries and rules so your child knows what he should and should not be doing. Some misbehave because they don’t know what the rules are. When you discipline, make sure your child knows that it is his behaviour that you disapprove of, not him. This sort of discipline should begin from 2 years old onwards.
It requires patience, suffering and worry. This state of heart is required for growth because it is difficult to develop the right brain if your child is spoilt. Children need to learn to endure some difficulties in life and learn to overcome them (see adversity quotient).
Help children fully absorb positive comments from parents, teachers, and their surroundings. Help them fill up their “positive cup”. This will help them overcome obstacles. “Don’t worry if you cannot do it now, next time you will be able to.”
Develop the heart – the right brain is strongly affected by the heart. If the heart is negative, the right brain cannot be applied. Mrs Henmi from Heguru gave an example of a boy who discovered he was better than his peers because of his right brain development. After a while, he began to look down on his peers. As a result of his arrogance, his right brain ability started to drop.