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“These wise little teachers remind us, courtesy of their right brain, that life is about enjoying the little things, about enchantment and surprise; it’s about being present with another, offering them your gentle ear, hearing between the lines, not just what is being said, which is what logic grasps. With the help of the right brain we touch the hidden places in our heart and in the hearts of others, those secret dimensions that give meaning to life.”

The stages of brain development fascinates us. Not just as occupational therapists but also as parents and teachers. Seeing children interact with others, their environment, processes and playtime teaches us more than any of our textbooks ever did. We wonder if the children we work with will grow to be logical, results-driven adults (left-brained) or if they will focus on the journey, rather than the facts of life, and become creative, intuitive thinkers. It’s not for us to determine the answer but rather foster an environment that allows children to explore their full abilities without the fear of failure.

Vince Gowman, author of Healing for a New World, shares his knowledge about brain development in THIS incredible article. At Zier Institute, we stress the importance of simplifying routines and being present in the moment. Mr. Gowman‘s information about the stages of brain development confirms that through exploration and curiosity both right and left-brained children discover their own unique strengths.

Having a better understanding of cognitive development gives insight into a child’s overall health and wellness. Armed with information about developmental milestones helps to identify social or emotional development red flags. Through our work with neurodevelopmental vulnerabilities such as autism, ADHD, anxiety, OCD, and sensory processing disorder, we know the positive impact early awareness and intervention can make.

While 75% of the brain is developed by age 3-4, developments continue throughout middle childhood. As the central nervous system matures, more complex behavioral and cognitive abilities occur. Behavioral red flags are possible at any age.

Right or left-brain, all children need adults who encourage initiative, applaud creativity and promote self-regulation and confidence. For a deeper dive into the two hemispheres that rule us all, we recommend THIS episode of NPR’s Hidden Brain podcast.

“What distinguishes hemispheres is not what they do, but how they do the same things differently… each of the hemispheres does the same thing with a different spirit.”