By 3-4 years of age the right side of the brain is developed. The left brain, on the other hand, doesn’t fully mature until children are approximately seven years old. Of course, both sides of the brain are important, and the first 7 years of development are critical.
The left brain’s functionality is one of language, numeracy, literacy, analysis and time. It is the logical, calculating, planning, busy-bee part of us that keeps us anchored in the world, and in past and future time.
The right brain, on the other hand, is responsible for empathy, intuition, imagination and creativity. It is where we wonder, dream, and connect. Through the right brain we dwell in the space of no-time, in being absolutely present. The right brain is concerned with the process and the left brain is all about the outcome.
The right brain connects us to our boundless sense of being and not just doing. Right-brain dominant children are quite content being and not always “doing”.
Understanding this we can better appreciate why play is so important in child learning and development, and why we need to be extra careful with the amount and timing of academic agendas created for children. We should think about how much we emphasize WHAT kids have accomplished at school—versus the process—who they are becoming and what they feel in their explorations.
In conclusion, it may be important to teach early on the wealth of information that is learned as children play in the early years. Point out how they feel when events take place as they play or how actions lead to outcomes and they can be a part of changing the outcome. These foundational qualities of the right brain will then serve the left brain as it later focuses on outcomes.