A kid’s mind is like play-dough. The first few years of a child are incredibly crucial, as they determine how smart your kid is going to be.
Human beings are the apex predator, the most intelligent species on earth. In the first few years of our lives, we are far behind animals when it comes to visible development. Although our physical growth is slow, our brain develops faster than any other species. In the first few years, the brain is still making and strengthening connections. It is very receptive to learning experiences. These years lay the foundation for how you learn in the future as well.
How does a child’s brain develop?
Newborn babies have approximately 100 billion neurons. These are nerve cells that power our brains. For our minds to function, neurons need to pass information to each other. They send messages to each other through synapsis. This chain of neuron and synapsis develops faster by simply interacting with the child. Nutrition also plays a vital role in brain development. Fetal brain growth starts from 25 days. The brain begins with a fundamental structure and gradually takes shape. Folds quickly start forming, increasing the surface area. These folds house millions of neurons that enable the brain to perform complex tasks.
From duck-duck-goose, musical chairs to hide and seek and hopscotch, interactive learning through games is an integral part of a child’s early years. Here are five brain workout games every mother must try while raising a super smart kid.
1.Bouncing and Catching: Work your tactile senses
What it does: This activity improves your child’s hand-eye coordination and body coordination. It also improves their reaction time.
Something as simple as bouncing and catching a tennis ball could help with a child’s brain development. It is best if done in pairs. Start with dropping the tennis ball and finding it in the same hand. After a few tries, try to cut it and catch it on the opposite side, switching back and forth. Next, start dribbling the tennis ball with one hand. Once you get that right, try changing hands. Dribble it with one hand and catch it in the other.
You can also try throwing it against the wall instead of the ground.
If you have two kids, make them stand in front of each other, a few paces away and give them a tennis ball each. Ask them to bounce the tennis ball ( to each other ) with the left hand and catch with the right. After a couple of tries, switch sides again. Bounce with the power and catch with the left. For the last step of this activity, they are going to bounce the ball, catch it, pass it to their other hand behind their backs and throw it again. Bounce-Catch-Pass-Ready.
Mothers can participate in these activities too! You don’t need a separate playtime to do this. A few changes in dull day to day activities can get your brain sweating. For example, try using your non-dominant hands, brushing your teeth first thing in the morning while you are still sleepy. You can also try showering with your eyes closed. The reason behind doing these activities is that they will stimulate your brain and force you to rely on your tactile senses.
2.Motor Skills Activity Set
What it does: It improves your kid’s fine and gross motor skills, boosts creativity and helps with hand-eye coordination as well.
Let’s start with improving their balance. All you need is a basic 2*4 wooden plank or any hard surface. Sidewalks, curbs and even cracks are a great way to practice balance. Make sure you are around your kid, while he or she is doing the same. Make them walk the balance beam narrating a story about a pirate and getting them into role play. This whole exercise will improve your child’s imaginations and balance at the same time.
If this gets too easy, place toys on either side of the beam and ask them to pick the toys, while walking and balancing. Give them a point for each toy they collect, to keep up their motivation. Here’s an idea for a rainy day activity – Balloon Tennis. We don’t need rackets for this. Show your kids pictures and videos of tennis beforehand and let them soak in the idea. Place a few things in front of them and let them choose their racket. A spatula or even a paper plate taped to a wooden stirrer. Get a balloon and toss it in the air, and ask your kids to hit the same. This is a great exercise for improving hand-eye coordination.
3.Nameless Painting with your kids
What it does: This activity encourages free-thinking in children and boosts their imagination, creativity as well as curiosity.
Yusuke Imai and Ayami Moteki built and interesting set of colors that teaches kids the color theory in a fun and easy way. This set even won the famous Kokuyo Design Awards in 2012. This unique coloring set includes ten tubes of colors without any name written on it. Each tube has a spot of a particular color or colors. The spots vary in size. Why? We will get to that in a minute. The kid does not know the colors inside the tube.
He squeezes a tube and gets a purple color. Now, the kid refers to the top of the tube to find the same size spots of blue and pink. Conclusion – The kid learns that an equal amount of blue and pink creates a purple color. If a particular spot on the tube is bigger, that is the dominating shade and it would create a different color. If a tube has a big blue spot and a small pink one, the resulting color would be dark blue instead of purple. A fun way to understand color theory and sharpen analytical thinking.
Group art projects stimulate parts of the cerebral cortex that deal with nonverbal communication and emotions. This activity is best done with kids, as they are creative, imaginative, fun to work with. Each member of the group can paint anything that comes to their mind, based on a theme.
4.Brain Synchronization through Abacus
What is does: Working with an abacus increases brain cell and synapse formation, leads to clarity of thought and brain wave pattern optimization.
Abacus is a centuries-old tool used for calculation and mental maths. The active use of fingers increases blood flow to the brain, increasing oxygen levels, helping in brain development. Many kids have a phobia of math. So instead of rushing them right into the world of numbers and calculations, let them play with the abacus for starters. A simple colorful abacus with four columns of ones, tens, hundreds and thousands is great, to begin with. Start with simple counting such as 1 to 10 or 10 to 20 using the ones and tens column. When your kid gets comfortable with this system, introduce more numbers and units.
This simple tool contributes majorly to brain development. Developing logical and analytical thinking in the first years can be constructive in later years. Using an abacus can even introduce your child to the ‘Ah-Ha!’ brainwave pattern, when thought becomes incredibly bright and brain synchronization is at its peak.
Something as simple as turning your family pictures upside down can help polish your verbal brain. Think of it as a ‘brain gym’. When you focus hard on interpreting shapes, and people, your neural network gets pumped up. Trying this fun activity with your kids is a great way to increase their analytical and logical thinking.
5.Socialization through crosswords, riddles and treasure hunts
What is does: Crosswords and Riddles improve the way kids think. They also help in parent-child bonding. Many kids come up with behavioral issues due to lack of proper socialization and bonding. Getting into a habit of reading books and newspapers at an early age is a good practice. If only to solve crosswords every now and then. If you are looking for interesting and riddles to solve with your little one, newsday crossword 911 is an example.
“Turn us on our backs and open up our stomachs, and you will be the wisest but at the start a lummox. What are we?”
Did you get that one? Scroll up to find the answer.
While solving riddles, children come up with creative answers and are not afraid to express themselves. Comprehension is another benefit that comes out of solving riddles. Many kids face problems in fully understanding a given context. A treasure hunt is the best way to introduce your kids to the world of riddles. They entertain kids and get their brains working at the same time.
Set up a small treasure hunt in your back yard every now and then. Start with placing hints and simple riddles all across your backyard or home and set a few rules for the game. Watch closely as your child navigates through the games. It is an excellent tool for parenting. Treasure hunts encourage leadership, teamwork, communication, and creativity. It edges the kid to think creatively. Treasure hunts involve a lot of thinking and deduction, for which, patience is paramount.
A child’s brain is like a sponge. The more it gets to interact, the better it develops. The right kind of games contributes majorly to a child’s health and development. There are numerous ways to enrich a child’s brain with relevant information. But nothing can be as useful as games. Through proper learning and social interaction, a kid’s mind could develop years before its due. These games not only help the kid grow mentally but also teach essential life skills such as morality, patience, cooperation, and hard work.