We can work toward a better and more efficient brain at any age, think of the brain as a muscle, we all know working out will make muscles bigger and stronger and if you stop exercising the muscles shrinks and become weaker. Therefore, it is important to start exercising the brain early. For children the foundations for brain function literally needs to be build from scratch, this require much repetition and practice to develop new skills and even more to solidly root them. Mom and Dad this is your job to lay fresh tracks for your children so that he/she can continue to adapt and stay functional and competitive in a quickly changing world.
First Touch has put these ideas together to help children and parents create brain games together:
- Make up a “sort of” real story together as most young children love to recreate the daily activities, they observe what their parents and other adults do, this is not only fun, but it is beneficial. Creative activities and new experiences are ways to have a positive impact on brain plasticity and the brain’s ability to reorganize and change itself as it absorbs new information.
- Try role play imitating a day at school where the child becomes the teacher and the parent the student. These types of activities allow the child to adapt to new surroundings and build new cognitive pathways.
- Reading to your children, even if they are infants is very important as they hear new words, see colours and images to help children use different parts of their brain. The exercise will allow the sensory pathway to develop and in turn helps develop cognition and the ability to acquire knowledge and understanding through thought, experience and senses.
- It is relaxing to sit and sort blocks by colour and shape together, children have a natural desire to try and make sense of the world around them. You can start by sorting blocks by shape or colour and then progress to removing silverware from the sink or dishwasher (please keep the knives out of reach), sort the silverware and put them into proper drawers and slots.
- When the little ones are old enough to walk around without help, try introducing flashcards at the child’s eye level, use the alphabet, animals or number flashcards, you can place them around the house with removable tape. This will help develop your child’s motor skills, as they will find themselves fascinated by chasing after the cards and stimulate the sensory and cognitive areas of the brain. To make this game even more beneficial is to ask your child to show you where a flashcard is located. By doing this it will stimulate his/her memory and motor areas of the brain.
- Playing board games, like checkers or building puzzles and crossword puzzles can engage and stimulate a child’s brain in ways that they can benefit their development for years to come. Chess and checkers are both excellent brain-boosting activities as they involve memorization of which pieces can move in which direction and when the moves can be executed. By the age of five a child can grasp the concept of checkers, start with them having to learn how to set up a checkers board and explain the directions. Play some sample games with the initial goal being to memorize the moves, verbalize and visualize the moves to help them understand how the game is played.
- Why not get an early start – soon you child will be old enough to take an English class and it is likely that they will have weekly vocabulary test to challenge his/her knowledge. Even a 2 year can learn that the work “remarkable” is more descriptive than the word “good”. Building brain power from having a word of the day will encourage children to recall and use it in appropriate ways. This exercise helps the child to boost recall and to enhance their memory.
- Then of course we get to exercising, which is one of the most powerful means to keep the brain healthy. Whether it is teaching a child to kick a football or dance the salsa, sports specifically are brain boosters for many reasons, because of physical activities it boosts oxygen and muscle memory. Sports played individually or with teammates, coordination, determination and patience are developed. It is a perfect time to introduce sports to children when they are young, who knows you might even enjoy participating in the sports with your children, it is important to encourage your child to stick with what they are good at so that they will actually enjoy it and put in some time to practice.