7 Ways to Keep Your Children’s Brain Sharp

Aug 22, 2012 at 12:16 am in Featured Blogger, Featured Parenting, Parenting by YWee · Tags: ,

7 tips that will help keep your children’s brains sharp and agile. These tips don’t require any fancy gimmicks or expensive gadgets. Instead, we can utilize things that are available to us on a daily basis:

Tip #1: Read Everything and Anything

One of the best gifts we can give to hungry brains is knowledge. Reading is still one of the most effective ways for learning new things. While chapter books are certainly wonderful, you can also give your children a variety of other materials to read such as cookbooks, nutritional labels, newspapers, magazines, menus, travel itineraries, and movie schedules. Then test their understanding by having them summarize what they read. Let them read aloud to you, to their siblings, to neighbors, and to grandparents as often as possible. By interacting with them after they have read something, you are engaging them to think, respond, and get creative.

Tip #2: Math Activities in the Kitchen and in the Store

Families spend a majority of their time together in the kitchen. This is a wonderful opportunity to get your kids’ minds thinking mathematically. Give them some jobs in the kitchen that will require them to figure out math in their heads. Here are a few suggestions:

Idea 1: Look at nutritional labels with your child and point out the serving size and number of servings per package. Many foods, like crackers and cookies, denote servings as the number of items. Ask your child to calculate how many cookies (or crackers) would be needed to make two or four servings.

Idea 2: Ask your children to help you figure out how to make half of a recipe or how to double the recipe. Show them the amounts of each ingredient and explain that you need to use exactly half of each one or twice as much. Encourage using numerical division, if they’re old enough, or have them show you the correct measuring implements if they’re too young to use the numbers.

Idea 3: When grocery shopping, head to the produce department and let your child help figure out the cost of the fruit and veggies you will be buying. Show the produce scale to your child and explain that each pound is divided into 16 ounces. Tell him how many pounds of fruit you wish to purchase and weigh the fruit you’ve picked out. Ask him to estimate how many much more you need to bring it to the desired weight.

Tip #3: Stay Sharp in the Car

The time you and your kids spend in the car really does add up, so this is the perfect opportunity to incorporate some stimulating mind exercises while on the go. Here are some of our family’s favorites:

Activity 1: Have each family member look for and choose a license plate and write it down. Remove the non-numerical symbols. Everybody compare numbers and calculate whose license plate has the largest number. Take it one step further by asking by how much. What would that number round up to? Round down to? What number is in the tens place? What’s the largest place value on the license plate?

Activity 2: Tell a story that includes key elements that must be memorized. For example, you start the story by saying “I love Cocoa Beach because of the soft sand.” The next person says “Mom loves Cocoa Beach because of the soft sand, but I really like to ski at Attitash Mountain because of the triple diamond hills.” Everyone in the car builds on the story but must include the details from the very beginning from each person.   It gets silly sometimes and it’s a fun way to work on memory skills.

Tip#4: Keep Them Active

Kids who are playing outside, on the swings, on the jungle gym, in the sandbox, riding their bikes, or involved in an organized sport such as Little League or gymnastics are engaging their bodies and imaginations. Kids who are playing video games and watching TV are not. It’s that simple. Physical activity stimulates mental activity, so get your kids moving. Check out the episode onFun Ways to Keep Your Kids Active for ideas.

Tip#5: Learn a New Hobby

Find an age-appropriate interest for your child that he or she hasn’t tried before. It could be building a model airplane, learning to paint a still life, taking a pottery class, or the trend that’s currently surging in popularity, teaching kids to knit and crochet.  When the brain is learning new skills, it is also staying sharp.

Tip#6: Play Memory Games

There’s nothing like a good memory game to help keep your kids focused. My younger kids love it when I put about 8 items in a box, let them see the box contents for about 45 seconds, and then take it away. Next they have to name all the items that were in the box. It’s super simple yet extremely effective—and even better when a few kids are involved because it creates a bit of competition.

Another great memory game is Concentration. Grab a deck of 52 playing cards and spread them out face down. Match up pairs by memorizing the location of each card. This game is also fun for younger kids, who enjoy cards with their favorite cartoon characters like Dora the Explorer or SpongeBob. If you visitFunbrain.com, you’ll find lots of interesting memory games to play online.

Tip#7: Puzzles and Construction Projects

Crossword puzzles, word searches, and the popular game of Sudoku are great ways to exercise the brain. Kids needn’t spend hours doing them, either. Spending 15 minutes a day is perfect. Another wonderful way to get those brains thinking is by allowing them creative play time with construction items like Legos, wooden blocks, building card houses, constructing sand castles, and playing with big foam blocks. My pediatrician is a strong advocate for blocks because of how versatile they are for every age group. Infants and toddlers enjoy simply touching and gripping the blocks. Two-year-olds may demonstrate their first attempts at building structures and show the early signs of imaginative play. Around the age of 3, children learn how to fit pieces together and build more complex structures. Four-year-olds begin to recognize designs and patterns and their structures become works of art. And soon after, school age children learn to recreate structures they see in everyday life like the police station or their school.

Helping your child keep his brain sharp doesn’t have to be daunting. If you add a few of these fun activities into your children’s regular routine, you’ll be helping them stay focused and on top of their game for years to come.

Source: Mightymommy
photo source: masterworks.wordpress.com