The cerebral laterality of children: difficulties at school

Many of the reading and school problems of children from 6 years of age are due to the fact that they have not managed to make one of the sides of their body the dominant one. The relationship between the ability to read and write and brain development It has been demonstrated by numerous scientists.

The normal evolution of the brain seeks that the human being has the eye, the ear, the hand and the foot on the same side of the body as dominant, that is, a full laterality. If this does not happen, this development is not usually completed and reading problems arise as a consequence.

Complete laterality occurs only in man

Nature has divided man's brain into two halves: one right hemisphere and one left hemisphere. The right controls the left side of the human body and the left hemisphere controls the right side (thus it could be said that there is a "cross").


Around 5 or 6 years, one of these two hemispheres is defined as dominant and man develops a marked preference in the use of the side of his body controlled by that hemisphere, becoming right or left handed.

In addition, the dominant cerebral hemisphere is the one that assumes the functions of language and the non-dominant those of non-language.

Complete cerebral laterality (common use of the foot, hand, ear and eye on the same side of the body) occurs only in the human race: men are the only creatures capable of speaking, reading and writing. Hence the importance of an adequate lateralization as a previous step for the learning of the reading and writing and the complete maturity of the language.


Stages of brain development in children

Until reaching this complete lateralization the child goes through three stages in its development.

Children under one year do not yet have lateralization; They are completely ambidextrous and have little language. That is to say, we are not born with a defined laterality, but develops with age and experience.

Crossed laterality or cross pattern

In its evolutionary development between 6 months and the year, the baby learns to use parts of both sides of the body at the same time and by default; this is called "cross pattern": crawling on hands and knees, start walking, synchrony ... While crawling, for example, simultaneously use the hands and knees on both sides of your body: the right knee with the left hand, then the left knee with the right hand.

The "cross pattern" is necessary and prior to the stage in which full lateralization is achieved. Many reading problems, although it may seem a lie, they are due to the fact that the child has not crawled as much as necessary, or has seen his movements restricted.


Full side

From eighteen months to 6 or 7 years of age, the final and exclusively human stage of brain development takes place, giving rise to complete laterality. That is to say, one of the two halves of the brain becomes dominant and assumes the function of the hemisphere of language.

In humans who learn to read and write, one of these halves must become dominant, that is, become the hemisphere that controls these skills. If the left half of the brain becomes dominant, the child will be right-handed, and predominantly use the ear, eye, hand and foot on the right side of the body. And if the right half of the brain is the dominant one, the child will be left-handed with what will use the ear, eye, hand and foot of the left side of the body.

If one of the halves of the brain does not become dominant, brain development is not completed and the result is usually a reading problem.

Do not force the child to be right-handed

At these ages (up to 6-7 years), the equal handling of both hands is usually a warning sign of a future reading difficulty. A mixed laterality (without a defined dominant side) also points to problems. This means that all impulses do not enter a single hemisphere, the dominant one, and the ability to decipher or read is affected.

But nevertheless, children at this stage should not be forced to one or the otheror. Once they have done, in a natural way, the own choice of their dominant side, it is necessary to help them become completely lateralized, right-handed or left-handed, according to their choice.

Studies show that from a 10 to 15 percent of the population has a genetic predisposition to be left-handed. These children should be allowed to be left-handed in the same way that others are allowed to be right-handed. Once the child has indicated a strong preference should be given all kinds of facilities to operate with that side as its skillful or dominant. But there must be no attempt to force the election.

When there is an efficient laterality

When the boys do not use an entire side of the body in a dominant manner (full laterality), a series of consequences usually occur:
- problems with reading
- problems in spatial orientation
- problems in writing
stuttering
- dyslexia

There are numerous cases of children with serious problems of reading, dyslexia or stuttering, due to poor lateralization. On some occasions, these children had small brain deficiencies that were corrected with appropriate exercises and could then reach a normal level of linguistic or reading maturity.

However, on many occasions, it has been shown later that these problems arose because of a relatively frequent error in education. This is the case of left-handed children who force them to use the right side at home or at school. This prevents a complete lateralization, since following a natural evolution the hemisphere that would have formed dominant would have been the right (and, therefore, the left side of the body).

The objective pursued by parents or teachers each time they changed the pencil or spoon to the child was to get him to be right-handed and his right side to be the dominant one. But as the natural inclination is not easy to change, these guys became mixed laterally, or deficiently lateralized, with various problems: little spatial orientation, reading problems ...

Beatriz Bengoechea. Psychologist and Family Counselor

It may interest you:

- Reading problems in children have an impact on their future

- Left-handed children: the world from the mirror

- Learning to write, exercises for children

- Handwriting facilitates memorization and learning

Video: Are People Really Left-Brained or Right-Brained?


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