November 9, 2023

The Intersection of Right Brain Education and STEM: How to Foster a Balanced Learning Environment

The Intersection of Right Brain Education and STEM: How to Foster a Balanced Learning Environment

Today’s school students, as well as their grandparents, have something in common – the pressure to focus on STEM (Science, technology, Engineering and Math) education. From an early age, math and science are prioritised over art, languages, etc. But choosing one over the other is not the best solution. Instead, right brain education and STEM must be approached as one. After all, along with the technology running them, Apple products are revered for their sleek looks. Would the brand have been as successful if it did not focus on both?

Educators around the world are switching from a STEM-focused vision to a STEAM path that adds ‘Art’ to the mix and focuses on developing skills connected to both sides of the brain. Let’s dive into the benefits of such education and strategies to Integrate right brain education and STEM activities.

Understanding Right Brain Education and STEM

Before we can look at integrating right brain education and STEM, we must first understand the two terms and their significance.

Right Brain Education

Drawing a line down the centre of the brain creates what is popularly known as the left brain and the right brain. The right hemisphere is associated with arts, music, spatial abilities, facial recognition, emotions, creativity, long-term memory and visual imagery. Thus, right brain education focuses on developing these skills. The approach here is interactive between children and their parents/ caregivers and demonstrated instructions. 

The right brain develops before the left brain. A child’s right brain is believed to be primed for learning between the ages of 0 and 3 years. Exposing a child to a variety of colours, sounds, smells, etc., during this period and encouraging them to explore the world around them can kickstart their learning journey. 

What are The Benefits of Right Brain Education?

Right brain education has benefits that go beyond acquiring right brain skills. This includes:

  • Improved synaptic connections
  • Enhanced creative thinking
  • Stronger memory
  • Wider vocabulary
  • Healthy emotion regulation 

STEM

STEM activities are linked to the left brain hemisphere. This approach to learning integrates science, technology, engineering and math learning to help develop skills such as logic and reasoning, language processing, critical analysis, etc. The STEM teaching style leans on verbal instructions with close-ended questions. 

What are The Benefits of Stem Education?

In the current technology-driven world, STEM learning can be very useful in a child’s life at a later stage. When it comes to more immediate benefits, STEM education encourages curiosity and helps children develop an analytical mindset. It helps with problem-solving and reasoning. Learning STEM skills at an early age prepares children for their scholastic careers and helps them develop an interest in these subjects. 

The Benefits of a Balanced Learning Environment

Taking a balanced approach towards right brain education and STEM aids in a child’s holistic development. While STEM education provides technical skills, right brain learning encourages a broader perspective and increases emotional intelligence. 

When it comes to the development of the brain, the right hemisphere develops first, followed by the left hemisphere. Paying attention to right brain education in the first three years of a child’s life helps them acquire the right brain skills and influences their overall growth and development. For example, encouraging a child to think imaginatively lays the foundation for STEM skills like problem-solving. Similarly, children who have developed stronger photographic memory skills will find it easier to later retain scientific concepts and other scholastic learning facts.

Strategies to Integrate Right Brain Education and STEM

To integrate right brain education and STEM, you must first understand what is the learning style for right brain? And the left brain? Right brain education teaching is provided through interactive experiences, while STEM education rationalises logic. Some of the ways to help your child gain a holistic education are:

1. Storytelling Activities

Children of all ages love stories. Infants can read stories from picture books. The colourful graphics hold their attention while listening to the story helps the child expand his/her vocabulary. As children grow older, they can take a more participative role in the activity. Go beyond merely reading stories to enacting them through shadow puppets, cardboard automatons, etc. These activities encourage imaginative play while exposing children to basic scientific concepts and principles. 

2. Building Blocks

Playing with building blocks gives children creative freedom while creating opportunities for STEM learning. When a child shows you what he/ she has made with these blocks, asking them about it pushes them to use their imaginative powers to create stories around it. For example, let’s say your child built a dog house. While asking them stories about the dog and the dog house, you can also open up discussions on what a dog needs in a house, colours, etc. Indirectly, this builds spatial skills as well as encourages creativity and empathy. 

3. Action Songs

Action songs help children work on their hand-eye coordination and teach them to follow directions. These songs can also help children learn basic STEM lessons. The rhyme and rhythm of these songs make the learning experience easier. For example, action songs with a counting component help children practice math skills. This can be a fun way to teach children basic number series or addition and subtraction. One, Two, Buckle My Shoe, and Ten Green Bottles are popular action songs with a STEM relation.

4. Jigsaw Puzzles

Giving your child age-appropriate jigsaw puzzles can help them acquire the right brain skills as well as STEM skills in a fun environment. Children learn to analyse shapes and colours to find pieces that fit the puzzle while simultaneously working on shape recognition and spatial awareness. Solving a puzzle also helps them work on developing problem-solving and reasoning skills. To acquire STEM-specific skills, you could give your child themed jigsaw puzzles based on the solar system, farm animals, numbers, etc. 

5. Outdoor Play

Children thrive on playing. This is the best way to help them develop STEM and right brain skills. Playing outdoors on a slide or jungle gym helps develop motor skills and creates open-ended play situations where they can be creative. In terms of acquiring STEM skills, playing on slides and climbing up and down jungle gyms is a good introduction to basic physics principles. If there isn’t a safe playground nearby, a pikler triangle is a good indoor alternative. 

6. Nature Walks

Spending time with nature is a good way to introduce toddlers to different flowers, trees, fruits, and their associated colours, sounds, textures and smells. It encourages them to be curious about the world around them. As a child grows older, these walks are a good way to introduce the concept of growth in nature. Seeing how flowers open up from buds and how leaves change with the season are easy ways to help your child develop an interest in science. 

7. Sensory Ice Play

Playing with ice (under your supervision) is a great way to keep kids cool on a hot summer day and encourage cognitive development. This can be fun for toddlers, preschoolers and children in kindergarten. Ice play gives children a chance to explore temperatures, textures and the way ice transforms into water. As they work on melting the ice to free toys and other treats, they develop problem-solving abilities and explore cause-and-effect connections. Describing what they see and feel helps them expand their vocabulary and creates opportunities for STEM teaching. In addition, ice play is believed to help children learn how to regulate their emotions. 

In Conclusion

Focusing on only STEM learning limits a child’s potential to use only half his/her brain. Though they may seem unconnected, exposure to art, music and emotional intelligence is critical to acquiring skills required for math processing, problem-solving, and so on. Children who receive a well-balanced education grow up to have an edge over those who missed out on right brain education. 

As parents, you want your child to have the best chance of success in his/her life. That’s where the Raising Superstars programmes come in. This is an opportunity for you to discover activities and teaching methods you can apply at home to help your child develop the right brain skills and STEM skills. Take a closer look at the Prodigy Programmes today!

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