It’s no secret that our early years play a fundamental role in determining the type of person we will grow up to be. At this stage, it’s crucial for children to receive active and positive brain stimulation. That’s because these are the years during which a person’s brain grows at the fastest rate.
It’s at this stage of their life that kids will develop both their rational and emotional intelligence, as well as their learning skills, creativity, memory, and ability to cope with obstacles and stress. The inputs they receive from both adults and other children, as well as the activities they engage in, will play a major role in their future success, happiness, and psychological health.
So what can parents, teachers, and other caretakers do to train a child’s brain and make sure it develops healthily? Here are five brain activities for children that can make a positive difference.
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Climbing on things is probably something your kid already enjoys doing, but very few people know that encouraging this activity can help his or her brain development. In addition to boosting their motor skills, this activity helps children develop better coordination and increased balance, as well as improved awareness of the space they’re in.
Problem-solving is another skill that kids can learn through climbing. That’s because their brain learns how to identify the obstacles in front of them as problems to solve and overcome. It also boosts adaptation skills, as the kid is faced with the task of developing different solutions for each combination of problems. Not to mention that pushing kids to overcome obstacles is a great way to boost their resilience and determination, two qualities they will greatly need later in life.
Finally, climbing with other kids can help a child develop stronger social intelligence. It’s an effective way for children to learn how to cooperate with each other to reach a common goal and celebrate success together.
#2 Making a Mess
Probably, this is the last activity you expected to find on this list. Most parents freak out and get angry when kids make a mess of food, toys, and house items, considering it’s the adults who always need to do the clean-up. However, it will relieve you to know that making a mess plays a positive role in a kid’s early brain development. That’s because it allows children to use all their senses simultaneously and improve their understanding of the surrounding world. Here are some examples.
- Touching different types of food helps kids realize that different things have different temperatures and textures, while smelling them and tasting them is a way for them to differentiate them and understand which ones they like and which ones don’t.
- Hearing different items hitting the ground allows them to familiarize themselves with various sounds and associate them with different objects.
- Seeing something break is a way for children to understand that things are not permanent and can change their state and form as a result of certain movements and actions.
#3 Music Exposure
A study conducted by neuroscientists at the University of Southern California, in partnership with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association, found that listening to music accelerates brain development in children. The findings highlighted by this study could serve as a criticism of the current trend towards reducing, when not eliminating, music education in school.
Being exposed to music helps children learn how to process sounds, perceive speech, develop language and improve their reading skills. As a matter of fact, the aforementioned study stressed how children who are exposed to music very early in their life score better in terms of reading acquisition and communication skills. This is especially true for children with autism who are exposed to music therapy, with research demonstrating a clear link between ‘music intervention’ and improved social interaction and communication skills in those with ASD.
Moreover, music and dancing at the same time don’t just improve a kid’s motor skills but also help him or her use the body and the mind in coordination. It’s also a great way to expose kids to a wide range of emotions so that they can learn how to manage them. While listening to different songs and music genres can be great for your kids, you should also consider having them listen to music that is specifically designed to boost well-being, health, and internal balance.
In addition to being fun, puzzles are also a great brain activity for children. Psychological research tells us that allowing children to manipulate the surrounding world has a positive impact on their mental development. In particular, There are various reasons why puzzles can help achieve this goal. Here are the main ones.
- Having to remember patterns and shapes stimulates their memory.
- Having to focus on a task for an extended period of time helps kids develop the ability to concentrate.
- Puzzles are problems to solve; therefore, they activate reasoning and deduction, as well as stimulate a kid’s patience and ability to self-correct.
- Completing puzzles requires a combination of observation, mental activity, and manual action, meaning it teaches children how to coordinate their eyes, elaborate, and use of hands.
Another great thing about puzzles is that they are designed for children of different ages. For very young kids, you can use simple puzzles revolving around very basic shapes. As your children grow up, you can gradually expose them to puzzles featuring more complex shapes, such as animals, cartoon characters, or multiple objects.
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#5 Asking Questions
This is another great way to stimulate logic and curiosity in children. You can introduce them to this activity once they start to speak. Ask them about things they have done recently or about something you are doing together at that particular moment. For starters, you can ask them very simple questions, such as:
- “What did you draw at school this morning”?
- “Who did you speak with in class?”
- “Where do I find the milk?”
Even easy questions can help kids learn how to think logically, as well as interrogate themselves on their surroundings, daily activities, and other people. As your children grow up, you can start asking them more elaborate questions. For example:
- How do I make a sandwich?
- Why do we have a television?
- Why did the postman come here?
While this activity may appear trivial, it helps them develop a strong curiosity and become rational and positively critical adults in the future.