Researchers studying brain laterality believe that the left and the right hemisphere of the brain's cerebrum perform different specialised functions. People with an artistic temperament are considered to be right-brained, while people who lean towards analytical thinking are considered left-brained. While the two sides of the brain function differently, they work together. For example, the left hemisphere is linked to language, but the right brain helps understand tone and context.
The right brain hemisphere develops rapidly during a child's first 3 years. Leverage this window to help your child unleash their full potential. The best way to help a child learn is through games and activities. So, let's discover a few fun activities for right brain training at home.
What is The Right Brain?
The human brain consists of the cerebrum, cerebellum, and brainstem. The cerebrum is made up of two parts: the right hemisphere and the left hemisphere. Each hemisphere controls the nerves and functions of the opposite side of the body. Also, they perform other specialised functions. The right brain hemisphere is associated with:
- photographic memory
- spatial processing
- creative thinking
- emotional intelligence
In the case of many left-handed people, the right brain is also responsible for speech function. Some other functions associated with the right brain include abstract thought, intuition, data processing, and subconscious awareness.
A child's ability to perceive and respond to stimuli improves as the right brain develops. It also encourages them to think out of the box and solve problems. The ability to recall information by strengthening their photographic memory skills lays the foundation for long-term memory.
Right brain development also influences a child's emotional and social skills. Hence, although it is termed as right brain training, it is not limited to one hemisphere. When you focus on developing your child's right brain, you can see the impact on their holistic development.
Brain Development So Far
The size of a child's brain doubles in the first year and reaches 80% of its adult size within the first 3 years. The brain creates about a million new neural synapses every second during this time. A child's everyday interactions shape these connections, which help them develop abilities such as moving around, thinking, communicating, etc.
By the age of 2 or 3 years, a toddler has twice the number of synapses as an adult. Many of these connections are gradually lost during childhood and adolescence. It is easy to understand how and why this happens. Synapses are strengthened by regular use. For example, if you read to your child often, the synapses in the language-related brain regions will stay strong. On the other hand, connections that are rarely used weaken and are eventually eliminated. Two-year-old children whose parents did not read to them have a weaker vocabulary than their peers.
How can You Boost Your Toddler's Right Brain Development ?
Toddlers have the natural ability to learn. They thrive on exploring the world around them. In the 2–3-year age bracket, the right brain is dominant. This dominance shifts to the left brain when a child is 3+ years old. At this stage, exposing them to as much knowledge as possible at high speeds can help them acquire knowledge and develop relevant skills. It is also important to work on strengthening memory skills at this age.
Having understood 'why do we need to train the right brain?', let's look at your role as a parent in this development. The building and strengthening of neural connections are dependent on everyday interactions. In these early years, your child's interactions are primarily with you and your spouse. Hence, your relationship and interaction with your baby will influence their brain development.
You can do a lot in these first few years for your baby's right brain education. Things you can do include:
- Capture their attention by talking to them often
- Decorate their space with bright colours and marge playful motifs
- Explore textures with them
- Read stories in dramatic voices that capture your child's attention
- Playing games like 'I spy with my little eye' etc.
Boosting Your Child's Right Brain Development Through Games
Finding the best way to teach right brain education comes down to playtime. As children play, they explore their environment and build new synapses. Let's look at a few activities and games that can boost your baby's right brain development.
For 2-3 Years
- Wooden Blocks
Wooden blocks are ideal for right brain training. Playing with blocks of different shapes and sizes helps toddlers learn about balance and how to stack things. It also helps them think creatively. Dual-purpose blocks with alphabets or pictures printed on them extend the learning potential.
Playing with play dough is great for creative thinking and fine motor skill development. It creates opportunities to play pretend games and express their ideas. It also helps boost concentration skills. It is important to pick playdough made with non-toxic materials for toddlers.
Flashcards are a good way to train your right brain. Such activities foster early literacy and focus on improving memory skills. Let your child see the card for a few seconds, and then ask them to tell you what they saw.
- Matching Cards
Matching games help toddlers understand the concept of 'different' and 'same.' This basic skill will influence their reading skills. Shuffle a set of multiple matching cards and let your child form pairs. You can buy such card sets or make your own.
- Action Songs
Action songs help toddlers improve their vocabulary, understanding of words, and hand-eye coordination. It also helps a child become more confident. Popular action songs for toddlers include "I'm a little teapot," "the hokey pokey," and "the wheels on the bus."
For 3-4 Years
- Jigsaw Puzzles
Jigsaw puzzles are well-suited to developing the right brain functions like problem-solving, spatial awareness, and logical reasoning. Start with 9 or 12-piece puzzles. As your child's skills improve, they should be able to complete a 20–30-piece puzzle.
- Mandala Memory
This activity focuses on stimulating a toddler's mind and helping them develop photographic memory skills. Show your child a mandala with multiple colours for a few seconds. Then, ask them to recall the colours they saw and their positions on the mandala. The number of colours in the mandala can be gradually increased.
Playing with puppets is an educational activity that creates fun dialogue and helps build their language skills. It also teaches children about emotions and helps them think sequentially. You can make simple puppets from old socks and gloves.
- Storytelling from Pictures
Encouraging your child to create stories based on pictures helps them understand the cause-and-effect relationship and think creatively. Show your child a simple picture and let them tell you what they think is happening in the picture. Old photographs are great for this activity.
This classic game helps build memory and attention span. You will need a deck of matching picture cards. Shuffle the cards and place them face down. Now take turns to turn over any 2 cards. Pick the matching cards, and leave the unmatched cards in their original position.
Age-Appropriate Toys for Right Brain Development (2-4 Years)
Your child must learn how to play on their own and with others. Here are a few toys that can encourage them to do so while aiding in the right brain development.
- Stacking towers
- Doctor sets or kitchen sets
- Lego blocks
- Dolls and action figures
- Hula hoop
Some Games and Activities for Older Kids
Here are a few activities you can do with older children to strengthen their right brain neural connections.
- Sorting Activities
Sorting objects by colour, number, and shape helps develop reasoning skills, expand their attention span and improve executive function skills. Give your child everyday things like spare coins, cutlery, and vegetables to sort. Getting them to clear up after playtime by putting toys into different baskets is another way to involve them in sorting activities.
- Finish the Story
Making up stories helps develop imagination and creative thinking skills. It also enhances their listening and language skills. Start with a prompt and take turns to add a line to the story. You could even include a friend in this game to help your child improve their social skills.
- I Ate…
This game aims to get your child to remember long strings of things. Start by saying "I ate (any edible item)". Your child must repeat what you said and add another item to the list. The game goes on with both of you taking turns until an item on the list is forgotten. There are many variations to this game; "I went to____," "I like____," and so on.
- Tangram Puzzles
Tangram puzzles are popular toys for early childhood development. It helps them learn geometric terms and develop problem-solving skills. Tangram puzzles are made up of 7 pieces that can be arranged in myriad ways to form different shapes.
- What's on the Tray
The idea here is to work on improving your child's memory skills. Put a few household items on a tray and let your child look at them for about 30 seconds. Then cover the tray and ask them to list the things they saw. The number of things on the tray can be gradually increased.
- Dress Up
Role-play and pretend games give children opportunities to think creatively and help improve their communication skills. To make the activity more open-ended, give your child old clothes and fabric scraps to dress up in instead of store-bought costumes.
Right brain development is important to help your child develop an independent personality and bring out their creative side. Help your child learn creatively through games and activities, especially during the first few years of their life. Expose your child to new ideas and encourage them to engage in activities that offer opportunities for learning and skill-building.
Finding the right activity for your child can be confusing. This is where the Raising Superstars programs come in. The Prodigy Programs can help you guide your child towards developing fundamental skills and right brain functions that influence their long-term growth and overall development. So, what are you waiting for? Contact us today!