Page 1


Who Owns the Problem? Help Your Child use Their Whole Brain MAY 2016






Learn to work better with tips from top creative professionals p40 /

MAY 2016

A day in the life of Stella Young, and how she stays creative p38 /




MAY 2016


Click on the image to read me!

MAY 2016


Left Brain + Right Brain By Maren Stark Schmidt

Help Your Child Use Their Whole Brain! Over the past 30 years, researchers have made great inroads into inner space, trying to figure out how our brains work.

Scientists know that certain parts of the brain control

Right-Brain Thinking:

specific brain and body functions. Two hemispheres form the basic structure of the brain, connected by a bundle of neurons called the corpus callosum.

Between 24 to 48 months of age, the neurons in the primary motor cortex of the brain sprout a large number of dendrites, which are responsible for movement in the

Intuitive, spontaneous, emotional, nonverbal, visual, artistic, holistic, playful, diffuse, symbolic, physical Left-Brain Thinking Analytical, linear, explicit, sequential, verbal, concrete, rational, active, goal-oriented

hands. The left motor cortex controls the right side of the body and right motor cortex controls the left side.

Communication between the hemispheres occurs via the corpus callosum, which grows rapidly during the first six

By the age of three years, 86% of children prefer to use the right hand more than the left. Researchers are looking into the proverbial chicken or egg question in regards to handedness. Does the use of the right hand create brain development in the left hemisphere and vice versa, or does brain growth create dominant hand use?

years of life. It is because of the corpus callosum that we can use our whole brains, and certain creative skills depend upon critical communication and perception shifts between the cerebral hemispheres. We need to encourage activities that help develop our children’s corpus callosum by strengthening right/left brain connection. Walking, running and swimming are physical

One thing we do know is that using the hands and brain

activities that require the functioning of both sides of the body

development are closely connected. We would be wise to

and therefore stimulate both sides of the brain fairly equally.

help our children use their hands in as many ways as possible in order to maximize brain growth and brain hemisphere communication.

Research has shown that certain kinds of thinking are directed in each hemisphere. The functions of the right hemisphere are referred to as ”right-brain thinking” and

Along with activities that use the whole body, we need to encourage activities that create cross talk between the hemispheres of the brain. For example, singing involves the right-brain function of music and the left-brain strength of language.

the work the left hemisphere is called ”left brain

Verbally expressing emotion uses the right-brain function of

thinking,” even though research shows that certain brain

emotion along with the verbal skills of the left brain.

activities may occur in any part of the hemispheres. Some examples follow:

MAY 2016


Drawing graphs uses the right brain’s artistic function in tandem with the left-brain’s analytical and mathematical

By softly counting into the child ’ s right ear, since the opposite side of the brain controls each side of the body, we begin to stimulate


left-brain function, which is concerned with Reciting nursery rhymes or poetry with motions takes advantage of the right brain’s predominance in motion and nonverbal skills while connecting with the left

logic and rational thought. Because number work is a left-brain function,

brain’s verbal skills.

counting in the right ear helps the emotional

Nursery rhymes and children’s songs have endured for

perception. This supports the old adage,

centuries because they naturally address the brain development needs of the young child. By encouraging singing and learning a large variety of songs with your

right-brain brain shift to a left-brain rational

” Count

to ten when you are upset. ” Counting helps us at any age to shift our thinking from our emotional right brain to our more rational left brain.

preschooler, you’ll also be encouraging the brain’s

Singing can also help make the calming shift

hemispheres to work together and strengthen vital

from right-brain to left-brain thinking. Keeping

connection through the corpus callosum.

the right-hand side of a crying child next to you can help the child shift to a more left-brain

Telling jokes uses the playful right brain and the verbal,


goal-oriented left-brain. If we can shift our joke telling at the right time to left-brain control, we’ll be more likely to remember and deliver the punch lines.

In our children ’ s first six years of life, a time of rapid brain growth, let ’ s work to keep our

Comedians rely on effective brain cross-talk to make us

children ’ s environments full of music, language


and creative activities that will stimulate and nourish both sides of the brain and the

Using whole brain communication can help us calm a

connection between the hemispheres.

crying or emotionally upset child.

Kids Talk


is a column dealing with childhood development issues written by Maren Stark Schmidt. Ms. Schmidt

founded a Montessori school and holds a Masters of Education from Loyola College in Maryland. She has over twenty-five years experience working with children and holds teaching credentials from the Association Montessori Internationale. Contact her at Visit This article has been reprinted with permission.

MAY 2016


WHO OWNS THE PROBLEM? By Maren Stark Schmidt

Five-year-old Samantha leaves her lunchbox at home at least once a week. Her mother, Lori, makes a special trip

to school to bring Samantha’s lunch a thirty-minute disruption to Lori’s day. Who owns the problem of getting Samantha’s lunch to school? Samantha or her mother? Some parents feel that they own all their children’s problems. When we take responsibility for every one of our children’s actions, we are robbing our children of the

We can determine who owns the problem by asking the following questions:

1. Who is directly affected with this situation?

opportunity to grow more responsible and to understand

2. Who is the person complaining or making an issue of

the consequences of their actions or inactions.

the situation?

If the child owns the problem, we should let the child

3. Whose work is being undermined?In the forgotten

handle the problem but support the child as necessary.

lunch situation of Samantha and Lori, both Samantha and Lori are directly affected, along with others in Samantha’s

If the parent owns the problem, then we must work with

classroom. Samantha pouts and refuses to join in

the child in order for the child to learn from the

classroom activities, thus disturbing her classmates, until

experience and become more responsible.

she can call her mother to bring her lunch.

Samantha is the major complainer in this situation. Lori isn’t thrilled, either, about having to take another 30 minutes out of her morning to get lunch to school.

MAY 2016


Lori’s work is being undermined by Samantha’s forgetfulness, while Samantha’s work of becoming more responsible is not being developed.

Samantha should own the problem of remembering her lunch and suffer the consequences of having to eat school lunch on the days she forgets her lunch. Lori can work with Samantha to help Samantha learn to independently remember her lunch by using mnemonic devices such as placing a note on the back door or the back seat of the car.

Our goals as parents should be to help our children develop concentration and independence. Helping our children own their problems prepares our children for the challenges they will encounter in the day-to-day existence of their lives.

Many adults who work with elementary, junior high, high school and college-age students report that parents seem to be running interference for their children far more often than necessary, thus denying their children the chance to learn from solving their own problems. These parents seem to appear immediately out of nowhere to intervene in their children’s difficulties, thus earning themselves the nickname of ”helicopter parents.” Calling teachers about forgotten homework, arguing with coaches about a demerit in sports, hiring consultants to write college applications, to appearing on their children’s job

interviews on college campuses every new experience for their children is hovered over by these helicopter parents in misguided search-and-rescue attempts.

Allow your children to take responsibility for their own problems, while supporting your children as they learn to navigate new waters. Before jumping in to solve a problem, ask yourself, ”Who truly owns this problem?” If the answer is ”my child,” don’t hesitate ”to let ’em have it.”

Remember: It is only one squiggly letter to go from mothering to smothering.

Kids Talk


is a column dealing with childhood development issues written by Maren Stark Schmidt. Ms. Schmidt

founded a Montessori school and holds a Masters of Education from Loyola College in Maryland. She has over twenty-five years experience working with children and holds teaching credentials from the Association Montessori Internationale. Contact her at Visit This article has been reprinted with permission.

MAY 2016


Don't Forget Email your kids photos to

Find Us, Like Us, Share Us

Bermuda Parent EZine May 2016  
Bermuda Parent EZine May 2016