Boosting the Brain Power of Preschoolers
Everyone wishes their child would be another Einstein, or have such an outstanding brain they will make a major dent in the world around them. There are no guarantees their brain is capable of accelerated learning, but there are activities that children between 3-5 years of age can do to get an early jump on others their age.
From the time they are born until they are 2, childrenâ€™s brains are expanding daily. They are developing language and motor skills at a rate faster then they ever will again. At around 3, and through age 5, that growth slows down and different connections are being formed within the brain regions. Toddlers begin to take in all that goes on around them and their brains are developing language, cognitive and problem-solving skills to be able to maneuver and communicate. Their bodies are also learning coordination, and they are now able to aim and shoot when playing soccer and kickball.
â€œKids should be out there exploring and getting ready for their next important job: going to school,â€ says developmental pediatrician Michele Macias, MD, spokeswoman for the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and chairwoman of the AAP’s section on developmental and behavioral pediatrics.
To accelerate learning and boost your toddlerâ€™s brainpower and ability to remember anything, here are a few ways that will help:
1. Spend as much on-on-one time as possible with your child. “The simple exchange of language and ideas is a much more important brain builder than putting your child in a million different activities,” says Macias, a pediatrics professor at the Medical University of South Carolina. Studies have shown that parents and children reading together improve literacy by sharpening vocabulary and language skills. It also leads to discussions that help a child better understand what they are reading.
2. Allow their imaginations to run free. Preschoolers have great imaginations, so donâ€™t structure everything they do. Allow them to spread their minds. They love to pretend, and between 3-5 that imagination takes hold in the shape of role-playing and dress-up. â€œMuch like reading, make-believe lets kids practice things they might not actually be able to experience in real life,â€ Gallagher says. â€œFor instance, when your preschooler smashes one toy car into another and then sends their toy ambulance in to the rescue, or sends their helicopter to rescue their stuffed animal off the cliff that you call a kitchen countertop, they’re absorbing and rehearsing crisis management in a very safe setting.â€
3. Allow them to socialize with other children their age. This helps them to develop self-control, learn how to share, build relationships and negotiate â€“ all skills needed in the future. â€œA child who doesnâ€™t develop well socially could be the most brilliant person in the world in terms of IQ, but their poor social skills can make them less successful in terms of health, school outcomes, and even jobs,â€ Macias says.
4. Do Brain Games and puzzles. Short and simple games that are age appropriate will help children boost their memory muscles by remembering rules. They will learn how to be patient until itâ€™s their turn, and learn how to accept the fact they wonâ€™t always win. Puzzles promote non-verbal reasoning ability and aids in visualization and memorizing.
5. Teach them another language. This is the perfect time to teach multiple languages. Children in this age group pick up languages quicker than when they get older because they are still learning to communicate. It promotes cultural diversity and also stimulates the brain areas responsible for memorizing, verbal and spatial skills and aids in building vocabulary and reading skills.
6. Let them play educational electronic games, and watch videos and certain educational TV that might benefit them. There are video games that are interactive â€“ like Wii, that are for families and have no violent programs. Carefully choose the programs, videos and television shows your child is watching and donâ€™t let them just sit in front of the screen without being interactive. You should watch them with the child to explain and answer questions. Limit this to two hours a day, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Keep the TV and other gadgets out of their bedrooms.
7. Listen to music and do crafts with them. You can help them to develop their motor skills and improve their musical and artistic intelligence by doing some structured activities that allow them so latitude and ability to express themselves. Remember, however, that not every child is artistic or musically inclined, so donâ€™t push them. Allow them to find their niche by guiding them, but not forcing them.
8. Donâ€™t overload your child with activities. â€œIt could backfire, cause them to get tired or frustrated,â€ Macias says.
9. Make sure theyâ€™re having fun! Let your child enjoy being a kid. You can steer them into higher mental development by allowing them to ask questions and you be there to answer them.
WebMD Feature – How activities such as playing, reading, and learning languages stimulate your preschooler’s mind, by Shahreen Abedin: http://www.webmd.com/parenting/guide/preschooler-brain-boosting-activities