Some of us are left brained. That is, we learn best when things are presented in a structured, black and white fashion. Think of your grammar school experience and chances are, it was a very left-brained environment.
Others are right brained. They prefer less structure, relate to pictures and humor and need to see the whole picture in a learning situation. If your child doesn't learn the way you were taught in school, perhaps it is because they are right brained.
Dianne Craft, who was recently interviewed for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, is located in Colorado, but offers teaching materials and tips for any parent. I had a chance to review "Teaching the Right Brain Child Video and Manual". The strategies and tips presented are invaluable.
A right-brained child is visual. Much classroom learning is auditory, and so these students suffer in a traditional setting. By teaching right brainers to store information in their visual memory, they will be able to retain it better.
Let's look at some ideas. A left-brain child learns sight words by viewing black and white flashcards. A right-brained child needs to have these images jazzed up so they can make a visual impression on their brain. So, for example, Mrs. Craft takes the word ALL and draws a face in the "a" and faces atop the two l's. The child is told, "These are all the people we have in our family: a baby (the a), mom and dad (the two l's). The word card is held in front of the child above eye level so they need to look up to view it. After several viewings, the card is removed, the child is told to look up to retrieve the spelling, and spelling is retained.
The manual and video are packed with ideas like these to teach right-brained children. If you don't feel sufficiently creative to jazz up the flashcards, she provides a set of sight words and beginning sounds to get you started. The teaching on the video demonstrates the ideas in the manual. I found them enormously helpful and got tons of ideas for my children, although the sound on the video was poor and detracted from the presentation.
A shortened version of this same teaching is available on audiotape. Another volume available from Mrs. Craft is "The Right Brain Phonics Program". It makes use of color and pictures superimposed on sounds to help the child remember the sounds. Part one teaches all the letters and letter combinations using color, picture and "looking up", as described above. Part two teaches the child to figure out longer words by helping them spot the smaller words parts they have mastered in part one. The child gets tons of practice with lengthy word lists provided for each sound presented.
A large part of Mrs. Crafts's expertise is also in the area of nutritional supplementation. She has an audiotape series called "The Biology of Behavior: Exploring the Physical Causes of Behavior and Attention Problems in Children". By listening to the tape and utilizing the accompanying study notes, you will learn the importance of attending to your child's body chemistry as a way of deciphering their behavior. The program begins with replacing the good bacteria in your child's gut with some quality acidophilus supplements, to begin to repair the damage done by antibiotics. She takes parents through several other steps to help their child obtain optimal brain health.
With my own daughter, we pursued both of these paths to find answers for her behavior and learning issues. Supplementing the brain while teaching to its strengths is a powerful combination. I wish I had these well presented, easy to understand materials to give me "the big picture" of how to help my child when we were going through our processes. Today, parents can take advantage of Mrs. Craft's extensive knowledge and expertise to find real answers for their children. Her website is a wealth of information and should be read thoroughly so that you understand her approach.