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For those of you who are curious to hear about my experiences with my children who are now turning 15 and 12, you can head over there to hear about it. If you would like the transcript for the audio, I am including it here. If you have other questions, please ask them on the Right Brain Child Forums.
An Interview with Montessori and Beyond
1. Could you please tell us a little bit about your background – what’s your name, where do you live and what do you do?
My name is Shen-Li Lee. I am from Malaysia but I grew up, for the most part, in Australia. I was a dentist, but I left the profession to explore other careers before becoming a mother. When I was pregnant with my first child, I became very keen to learn more about raising children and helping them reach their potential. I detailed my learning and experiences on a blog that eventually led to me publishing a book and starting Right Brain Child.
2. When did you take interest in the right hemisphere? Did you use any of the methods with your own family members? With what results?
My first experience with early learning methods focusing on “Right Brain” with the work of Glenn Doman. I heard about it from a mum and did some rough research on my own. At this time my first born was about 2 years old. A little later, another mum told me about the Shichida Method, but all she was able to explain was that it was about showing flashcards. I dabbled a little with flashcards but wasn’t particularly won over by the idea. When I became pregnant with my second child, I started to dig a little more into the methods of Shichida and stumbled on Heguru as well as TweedleWink.
At this time, there wasn’t a lot of information available on any of these philosophies except for the books written by Glenn Doman – which I bought and read. I enrolled my son into Heguru as there was already a long waitlist for Shichida and Heguru was still new in Malaysia. As I attended classes with my son, I started to learn about the kinds of activities the children were exposed to. Through these classes, I met more mothers with experience in RBE and spoke to them in an effort to learn more.
I think the two main features of RBE that attracted me was Speed Reading and Photographic Memory. Mostly because these were the two abilities that I felt would have made my life a lot easier in school.
I applied everything I learned to my children. At this point, I had only heard of RBE for children up to 6 years so it never occurred to me that older individuals could benefit. The biggest results I noticed was the intake of information – both boys can read very fast. The other significant benefit is their memory. They can remember a lot of things very quickly. For example, when I bought this card game, my eldest son read through all the cards and memorised all the special abilities. When we played the game with him, he kept winning because he knew which cards to take and what was the best way to apply them.
3. The Shichida math challenge schedule posted to your blog inspired many moms to take part in it with their own children. What are your thoughts on continuing right brain math after having successfully completed the Shichida challenge? I personally moved on to a traditional abacus and Japanese Soroban but I know there are probably many more activities.
After the Shichida math challenge, I believe it is important to incorporate a physical hands-on math program – much like what is taught in Montessori methods. Japanese Soroban is good as well because it applies RBE philosophies of using imaging. The Shichida math challenge focuses mainly on arithmetic, so extrapolating on other math concepts should be the way to go.
4. I noticed there are free Chemistry flashcards on your website to use with your child. Did you personally use these cards? With what effect? At what age do you recommend to use these cards with a child?
Yes. We used them but later when they were older. They also did the elements in RBE class. You can start as early as you want but the key to keeping it in memory is making sure you review them from time to time even after they can remember. What worked best for us was the elements song by ASAP Science. My son used that to memorise all the elements on the periodic table. It has helped him a lot in Science classes.
5. Could you tell us something more about your book, “Brainchild”? Where can it be purchased?
Brainchild is available in online bookstores – Amazon, Book Depository, and a few other stores. It is more about the basics of child development following mainstream science (I did not include content on Right Brain Education). It talks about general things parents can do to bring out their children’s potentials. A sample is available from Amazon Kindle Edition.
6. Would you like to share anything else with other parents interested in the right brain education?
For any parent truly interested to make RBE work for their children, it is important to discard any biases and preconceived notions you may have that can interfere with your progress. Young children, especially, feed off the emotions of their parents. They are especially intuitive to your thoughts and feelings – if you doubt, they will doubt; if you feel troubled, they will feel troubled. To make the most of this program, your heart must be open and it must be connected to your child because RBE is an education of the heart.
I must also add that RBE is a lot of work. You have to be prepared for this and know that some days are going to be hard. I think perhaps this applies for most early child development programs. It’s not easy when you work with really young children. They get sleepy, they get cranky, they get hangry and all these things affect your program. Some days you’ll have to take a break and you need to tell yourself it’s okay to break every now and then. You don’t have to be going at 120% everyday. Also, every child is different so don’t look at any one else’s child and wonder why your child isn’t doing xyz yet. Trust the process, believe in your child. Shichida says it is important to remember that your child is a work in progress – it’s not the end. So even if today goes badly; it’s okay. There’s still tomorrow and the day after and the day after.
7. You mentioned leaving your profession as a dentist. I’m in a similar boat – I’m an attorney by profession and I practiced in the US before giving birth to my son Leo. Was part of the reason why you gave up dentistry to homeschool your children? And by homeschooling I don’t mean it in a traditional sense – I also mean doing the RBE and developing their memory through the methods you mentioned.
I left dentistry before I got married and became a mother. It was a profession I did not pursue for myself and it wasn’t until after I became a dentist that I had the courage to leave it. But I did give up working for my children. I was privileged to have that option to do so. To be honest, I never thought this was something I would ever do. Having a child changed me and I don’t regret leaving my career for my children.
It actually wasn’t my intention to homeschool but it came together as I learned more about best practices for raising children. My initial goal was learning what parents could do to help children grow up confident and secure. I wasn’t a secure teenager and I wondered if there were things we could do from the earlier years to set up a stronger foundation. From here, i stumbled onto early learning and I never looked back.
8. I’d also love to ask you (if you remember at all) how often did you do any of the programs and for how long. I think it would help a lot of parents since there are different misconceptions – eg if you don’t do it continuously there won’t be any effects etc or if you start at 3 years old it doesn’t make sense.
I think it’s safe to say that we didn’t follow the traditional set patterns. I was learning along the way so there was so much I didn’t understand until later when the kids were older. I missed a lot of windows from lack of knowledge but I did what I could. Our days were not structured. My goal was experiences and hands-on learning. My eldest didn’t start RBE until he was 3. When I used Doman’s flashcards with him, I didn’t even fully understand how the program worked. I went too slowly because I thought if I can’t learn that fast, how could he? I had so many misconceptions that I didn’t unlearn until too late but despite my incompetence, we still managed. Our RBE classes were weekly. but occasionally, I supplemented at home with programs like Brillkids. I figured since they were getting RBE classes, I focused more on learning through experiences. I guess I was luckier that we had the option to get RBE classes.