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Raising a Left-Brain Child in a Right-Brain World: Strategies for Helping Bright, Quirky, Socially Awkward Children to Thrive at Home and at School Paperback – September 29, 2009

4.2 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

 “A brave, wise, and compassionate guide for parents and teachers of children who, because of their unique styles of thinking and learning, are so often misinterpreted and misunderstood.”—Brad Sachs, PhD, author of The Good Enough Child and The Good Enough Teen

“This book brims with sound, practical advice for nurturing children who don’t fit into the commonly accepted patterns of ‘normal development,’ yet possess remarkable gifts. A must-read for parents, educators, and mental health professionals.”—Michael Gurian, author of Nurture the Nature and The Wonder of Boys

"Beals shows parents how to campaign for left-brain friendly education reform, advocate for their socially awkward children, and nurture innate gifts of logic and linear thinking in a society that often favors personal interaction over academic genius."—Exceptional Parent

"The most accurate insights into the current trends of educational thinking that I have come across. It is a wake-up call for parents of both left- and right-brained children and should be required reading for all students-and teachers-in our schools of education."—Barry Garelick, Nonpartisan Education Review

“[Beals] articulates the most accurate insights into the current trends of educational thinking that I have come across.  It is a wake-up call for parents of both left- and right-brained children and should be required reading.”—Nonpartisan Education Review

"Beals intelligently and sensitively raises all the right questions about how we need to accommodate square-peg kids and bring out the best in them.”—Wellsphere.com

About the Author

Katharine Beals, PhD, is an educator and the mother of three left-brain children. A former public school teacher, she is a faculty member of the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education. Her writing on parenting has appeared in Mothering magazine and The Philadelphia Inquirer. She lives in Philadelphia. For more information, visit <a target="_blank" href="http://www.katharinebeals.com">www.katharinebeals.com</a>.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Trumpeter; Original edition (September 29, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590306503
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590306505
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #458,523 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Gavin Bollard on October 10, 2009
Format: Paperback
On the face of it, the title of this book would probably not normally engage my interest - which is unfortunate because it's a really fascinating book. The title isn't wrong either, the book really is about "Left-Brained Children"; it's just that you need a bit more explanation before you read the title.

Katharine Beals has used the label "Left-Brained" in place of other more judgemental labels. She describes the left brained child as the sort of child to whom mathematics comes easy and group work does not. Her definition is quite encompassing but if I have any issues with the book, they're simply that the definition she uses isn't wide enough. In my opinion, the book is just as relevant to children with "left brained" characteristics but better English/History skills than mathematics. Similarly, much of the book is relevant to children who have aspergers but who also have learning difficulties which prevent them from becoming "math wizzes".

The book describes three types of "left-brained" children;
* The Unsocial Child
* The Analytic Child
* The Mildly Autistic Child (Aspergers, HFA, PDD-NOS)

There are similarities between all three types of children and you may find, as I did, that things relevant to your child appear in all three sections.

What makes this book fascinating is that instead of providing an overall view of the child like most similar books, it concentrates on the changing school environment and its effects on these children.

It helps that Katharine is both an educator and a mother because her discussions don't stop at the school, they also include socialisation with school children outside of school (playdates), homework and learning at home.
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Every teacher should read this book. Every parent with a kid who doesn't fit the mold socially should read this book.

In most classrooms, there are one or two kids who don't fit the mold: who don't interact easily, for whom group projects are torture, and who are unable to participate fully in the modern conversational classroom. Teachers need to understand that these kids *are normal*; they aren't broken or in need of fixing (or medicating,) and they are not developmentally delayed--their personalities are simply different from the other 85-90% of the world. What they need are understanding teachers, and schools that take the diversity of personalities into account, and who do not place unrealistic demands on such kids. In short they need schools that separate a child's academic progress from their social integration.

Most important is Beal's observation that the modern classroom brings the worst aspects of the playground--with the social pecking-order--into the classroom and ties academic grades to a child's place in the social hierarchy. When classroom learning is framed around conversations among the students, instead of a conversations with the teacher, the kids at the top of the social hierarchy will prevail.

For example, our son's fourth-grade class was being introduced to the properties of circles, and because we had done some tutoring at home, he was familiar with the idea of pi. When he mentioned it to the other kids at his table, the others mocked him, asking if there was also a number called "cake." The fact that he was factually correct made no difference--it was the social hierarchy that prevailed, not actual learning.

However, the book is not just a show-and-tell of the problem. It also deals with ways to deal with so-called left-brained kids and with their schools and teachers.
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Format: Paperback
Katharine Beals's book offers a welcome antidote to the mountains of parenting manuals and educational philosophies that treat children as if they were all the same. Rather than bemoaning the plight of parents whose children don't seem to fit the institutionally-articulated standard, Beals celebrates the idiosyncratic nature of the children she discusses, and in doing so, elucidates an expansive, exciting, challenging, upbeat and intelligent vision of what parenting and education might look like and feel like. It's a book that resists normalization and the averaging-out of human subjects, large or small. Hooray!
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I am so thankful to have come across this book. It is as if it were written after following my son and I around for a year or so. Many of the case studies are almost identical to situations I have faces with my highly introverted, math-oriented second grader. It is such a blessing to now that there are any others out there struggling with the same things we are. I will be buying a copy for each of my sons's teachers next year!
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This book is an eye opener for children who don't fit today's educational needs. It helps you understand kids who don't learn in the same ways as others and gives suggestions on ways to find your child's learning style.
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Katharine Beals' book is a compelling exposition of the problems left-brain children face in today's society. In particular, it clearly outlines the disadvantages analytical, mathematical and/or introverted children face in the contemporary classroom. While this book is bound to have resonance with the parents of left-brainers, many educators are sure to find the book provocative as it questions current educational practices. On the issue of how children should be educated, this book is a powerful contributory polemic with vivid examples drawn from the real life experiences of a variety of learners.
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