Written by Dr. Daniel Kimbley
Did you know that play is a requirement for healthy brain development in kiddos? Yes, you read that correctly, in order for proper brain development to ensue in children under the age of 7, they must enjoy fun, creative, curious, imaginative PLAY regularly.
The interesting thing about kids being imaginative and playing is that it develops the right side of the brain which is responsible for empathy, intuition, imagination and creativity. The right side of the brain is how kids and adults dream, connect ideas, create, and come alive with purpose and passion for things they love. The left brain is responsible for our western “get stuff done” mentality where we calculate, use logic, plan, and work towards goals and tasks.
Can you guess which side of the brain shows up and begins to develop first in kids?
If you guessed the right side, you’re correct.
It makes sense. Watch young children play and they make up some of the craziest sounding things to us, but to them, their games and imaginations make perfect sense. This is the action of the right brain, which starts developing around the age of 4. On the other hand, the left brain starts developing around the age of 7.
The importance of play and building the right brain from an early age is absolutely critical to proper brain development. Author Vince Gowmon states that “we need to be extra careful with the amount and timing of academic agendas we create for children. We need to take care in how much we emphasize product over process.” In other words, pushing academics and left brain learning on kids too early they begin to feel disconnected and alone.
The interesting thing about the right side of the brain is that it actually sets the tone for how the left brain will function. Want your kids to be more productive in school, on the sports field, or just simply a better sibling?
They MUST have a focused right side of the brain for this to happen. Childhood stress from academics, birth traumas, or bumps and falls can reduce blood flow to the right side of the brain. If blood flow is reduced to the right side of the brain, then it decreases the productivity, logical planning and calculation of the left brain, which generally leads to anxiety or depression long-term (Hall).
On the other hand, when a child has a focused right side of the brain due to active play, happiness and focus in the left brain will ensue.
To state it simply, a healthy right side of the brain will create a stronger left side of the brain that will ultimately lead to more presence, productivity, and purpose.
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