The first part of this story is here.
It might seem a tad ironic that I’ve been focusing a lot about early childhood education lately, especially when I used to proclaim that childhood should be about having fun and being a child. If it seems like the focus of this blog has changed, I’m happy to reassure you that it has not. Let me explain…
In my earlier post, I wrote that my goal as a parent is “to be the kind of parent who is able to inspire my children to reach their fullest potential and to be the best that they can be”.
And it still is.
Now that I’ve come to understand more about the importance of the first six years of childhood and that how much of that potential a child can tap into depends on what we do with those first six years, I have been doing a lot of research into early childhood development.
The first thing I heard about was the Montessori Method. Maria Montessori spoke of the “absorbent mind” – a period in early childhood where children learned new things quickly and easily. According to Maria Montessori, it was important to structure a child’s environment to facilitate a child’s learning.
While I was looking for materials and ways to do so, I came across Glenn Doman and his work with brain-damaged children. Doman’s programs not only helped brain-damaged children catch up to the development of normal children, but they worked so well you could no longer tell the brain-damaged children from the “normal” children. He taught brain-damaged children to read, do Math, to become physically excellent, and to have encyclopedic knowledge. If the program worked so well with brain-damaged children, how much better would it work for children who were not brain-damaged?
Doman found that you could teach babies to read, do Math, become physically excellent and have encyclopedic knowledge. In fact, you could teach babies anything you wanted as long as you presented it right. What sold me was not so much the fact that babies could do these amazing things, but that they loved it. Learning was fun, learning was easy, and most of all, these babies loved it.
When I was a child, I never really enjoyed reading. It was difficult, I struggled to learn, and I was very slow at it. I distinctly remember my mother having to bribe me with lollies just so I would sit down with her and read my Peter and Jane books. Needless to say, I hated it. So if there was a way to teach my child to read so that it was easy, fun, and helped to inculcate a love for reading, I was all for it.
The thing about early childhood education is that once you start researching it, it’s like opening the flood gates. Montessori led to Doman, and Doman led to Shichida and Right Brain Education (well, technically, I had heard about Shichida very early on but because there was not a lot of information about it, I didn’t really understand it until much later). The reason why learning to read, do Math, etc. was so easy for babies is because they were harnessing the power of their right brains – a part that later became dormant as they grew older, unless we help them develop it. Shichida and Right Brain Education was all about developing the right brain and integrating it with the logical left brain.
It was very difficult to get information about the Shichida Method because they were notoriously secretive about their program. Most of what I could find initially were all second hand information from parents who had heard about it or who were sending their children to Shichida. Although they tried to share what they knew, I still felt that there were a lot of gaps in my understanding of the Shichida Method. What I really wanted was to hear it from the horse’s mouth.
My wish came true when I managed to get two books on the Shichida Method by Makoto Shichida, and a parent handbook (from a very generous mother – if you’re reading, thank you very much!). Reading about Shichida, his philosophies and his principles for right brain development confirmed that Right Brain Education was the way to go because it resounded with all my parenting philosophies – gentle discipline, the parent-child bond, and above of all else – love.
Shichida’s belief was that with right brain education (or rather whole brain education), we could raise children who were not only geniuses with amazing academic and sports abilities but individuals who could rise up into the 21st century and make a difference to the world we live in. The desire to raise children who would grow up to become happy, confident and successful individuals could be realised by tapping into our children’s right brain potential. And that is why I believe right brain education is the way to go, along with many of the other parenting philosophies I have been trying to practice.