I have recently heard the team and am subsequently teaching myself about right brained learners. The more I learn the more I realize that my older son is very right brained. I am looking for new teaching techniques and learning strategies as doing things the way I have in the past for some subjects is not always resulting in learning being achieved. Some things we’ve been doing that come ‘highly recommended’ have outright bombed and have also contributed to negative self-esteem issues and anything but a joyous learning journey in our homeschooling, especially in this last year (for my older son).
Yesterday I tried a new spelling learning technique I learned from hearing a lecture on right brained learners given by Dianne Craft. I was going by my memory. Then last night I was reading more of the book “Right-Brained Children in a Left-Brained World” by Jeffrey Freed and in that I learned a bit of a different way to teach spelling.
I am combining this technique with the Spelling Power spelling curriculum that we’ve been using for two full years now. What I do is after the program’s five minute pretest, I assembled the errors for my son to study. Yesterday I had put the errors on 3x5 index cards showing the error part of the word in red ink and the rest in black ink. Today when I tested him on those words he did it perfectly on the errors he made yesterday which had to do with using endings in which the plural word had the y changed to an I and then with –es or –er at the end. So it seems that worked. However on some of them he now was inserting a new mistake: making an error on the vowel near the middle of the word. Today using Freed’s technique, I used an 8.5 x 11 inch white paper. I wrote the word in large print. I put the mistake in a color (today, purple) and the right parts of the word in black. I then took a bright color to make a box around the whole word (something that Dianne Craft had mentioned in her lecture that I just had not done yesterday).
Today my son was frustrated by the spelling. We discussed it. He is feeling low because the spelling is not coming easily to him. I gave him some reassurance. With new information I learned from Dianne Craft and Jeffrey Freed, for the first time I asked him what he sees in his head when he thinks of the word. I had learned that often right-brained learners see in pictures not in words, even when the work they are doing is learning the spelling of a word, which is something that before now was just incomprehensible to me. I mean, to me if you are learning to spell a word it would only make sense that the things seen in your head when trying to spell out the word would be letters in the order that the word is spelled, letters going in the proper order from left to right.
So I asked him, when I ask you to spell “easily”, close your eyes. What do you see in the way the word is spelled. He told me that he sees no word. He had a weird look on his face as if I was crazy to suggest he would see letters spelled out in his head. He says he sees nothing, no image of anything with that word. Frankly I could not imagine what object would be visualized for the abstract word “easily”. I asked what he sees when he does today’s word “groceries” and “bakery” and sure enough, he said he saw a picture of bags of groceries and the other was bread lined up in a bakery case. He said the words that are not nouns present a problem for him as there is no word for it (those are the more abstract words).
I tried explaining to him that my mind is different and I happen to see the word written out in my brain, and especially more clear if I close my eyes. I told him I sometimes see a picture too, for the nouns, but when I make myself see the word such as to be able to visualize how it is spelled, it is right there floating in the air. He had a hard time believing this was possible. I then explained that one thing that he is supposed to have been doing per the Spelling Power recommendations, (which I have told him to do over and over) is to visualize that word in the air. He admitted he never did it even though I had told him to. I asked him to try it out.
I have spent hours this last weekend reading this book and trying to figure out new ways to teach my now identified right-brained learner.
In future blog posts I will share more about this book by Jeffrey Freed and hope to do a full book review. For now I feel the need to clarify the subtitle of the book “Right-Brained Children in a Left-Brained World”, the subtitle is “unlocking the potential of your ADD child”. What you need to know is that not all right-brained dominant learners have ADD. Freed says that nearly all if not all ADD labeled children are right-brained learners though. Freed also feels that a good number of right-brained learners who attend public school in America are mis-labeled as having ADD when in reality they just are right-brained learners shoved into classrooms taught by left-brained teachers with left-brained methods and they are either not learning or display negative behaviors out of frustration. So my point is that this book is about the general topic of right-brained learners. It also deals with how to help children learn, which can be modified to use with homeschooled kids or can be used in a tutoring way with parents of schooled children. The book also covers for parents, how to deal with the poor self-esteemed schooled children who have been made to feel stupid by their negative experience in the school system for struggling to learn (with the left-brained methods). If the child happens to definitely have ADD and is right-brained then this book applies to them as well.
One last note I want to make is that earlier this year this son was having an especially hard time with spelling. His diagnosis of having an eye tracking problem and getting prisms in eyeglasses plus having light therapy AND getting prescription eye glasses since he has a new diagnosis of being far sighted had a sudden huge improvement in his spelling ability. I was surprised and thrilled with that! However now that I know this son is also a right-brained learner and since he still not working above grade level on his spelling I am also trying these new teaching and learning strategies for right brained learners.
"Right-Brained Children in a Left-Brained World" by Jeffrey Freed
Jeffrey Freed's website
Dianne Craft's webstie (she discusses right-brained learners)
Spelling Power, the spelling curriculum I use which I'm further adapting with right-brained learner strategies
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