How Cognitively Clever is Your Child?

Brain Games For Kids -Doing What’s Best for Them

All parents want their kids to have the best possible learning opportunities; one thing this means is optimizing their brain capacity in order to process information more effectively. The most formative learning your children will receive is from you, the parent, and that’s good news; from an extremely early age you can influence how they learn and how much they learn. Even better news is that both parents and children will have heaps of fun along the way!

It doesn’t take much effort to get your young children motivated about playing a game. Chances are they’ll be the ones begging you to play rather than vice versa! As a parent, it’s important you utilize this enthusiasm to better your child’s cognitive skills. In this article, we will look into the benefits of cognitive development activities, and understand why they work. We’ll also explore new brain games and activities that are being developed, which you can try with your own kids.

The Significance of Rhythm

 

When it comes to cognition in children, one word is more important than any other: rhythm. Even before a child is born, rhythm is something he or she relates to and feels comfortable with. A fetus is reassured by the steady beat of its mother’s heart. When the child is born, it continues to be soothed by being held close to the chest and gently swayed as if still in the womb. A child never loses this appreciation for rhythm, and that’s why it’s something to capitalize on. Take for instance, bedtime. Children’s Literature Network cites Dr. David Agus lecturing on a study in which 300 children were put to bed at the same time every night, while another 300 were allowed to go to bed whenever they wanted. The result? “Almost at once, cognitive function went up 31% in the group that had a regular, fixed bedtime.”

But a good rhythm of sleep is only the beginning. Look at the concept of music and poetry; in early learning, the nursery rhyme combines music and poetry with repetition and rarely fails to produce positive effects on a child’s cognitive ability. Says native English speaker and certified TESOL instructor Maria Hruschak, “The natural flow of nursery rhymes actually lends them to being read, and in particular, out loud. Their subjects, rhythm and rhyme are easily remembered and recited.” Simple phrases and rhymes function as mini “work-outs” for the child’s brain.

Music and the rhythms within it have also been linked to marked improvement in the cognitive skills of children with learning disabilities. Specialist learning website Kidsenabled.org says, “Some researchers believe the connection between time/rhythm and learning may be so significant that a student’s response time to a metronome beat may predict performance on standardized reading tests.” Playing any kind of repetitive musical game with your children, therefore-think musical chairs or “The Twelve Days of Christmas”-is beneficial to their cognition, effectively becoming a brain game in and of itself.

Memory games and puzzles are another way in which children learn through rhythm. A simple skit like “I went to the grocery store and bought…” may seem very basic, but it is actually working on multiple levels. For one, the nature of the game gradually increases your children’s ability to remember. By adding one object at a time, they never feel out of their depth. Secondly, through introducing new groceries, your children’s vocabulary is steadily growing. And let’s not forget that because it’s a pleasurable game, they want to learn too.

 

A Healthy Lifestyle

Not a day goes by when your young children don’t want to move about, explore and be active. Let them. Physical activity is just as vital to children’s cognitive skills as what they learn from a book or a song. A 2010 New York Times report comments on a study conducted at the University of Illinois, in which schoolchildren between the ages of nine and ten were tested for fitness. Afterward, using magnetic resonance imaging technology, this fitness was correlated with the volume of specific areas of their brains. Results returned conclusive evidence that the fitter children were also those with larger brain capacity: “Since both groups of children had similar socioeconomic backgrounds, body mass index and other variables, the researchers concluded that being fit had enlarged that portion of their brains.” Games for kids involving physical activity can of course involve mental challenges too, but this is in no way essential. The key is ensuring that your child has time to enjoy both the physical and the cognitive regularly.

New Developments in Brain Games for Kids

 

This is a genuinely inspiring time for parents who want to improve cognition in their children. Aside from the aforementioned traditional activities, there is a whole new genre, eventuated by developments in technology. Websites like Bigfishgames.com provide a vast selection of educational activities for kids, to be played solo or with parents, while characters from children’s TV (Dora the Explorer, SpongeBob SquarePants) have taken to the online forum en masse, to offer their own amusing takes on education. Many educational games are available as apps too (look for listings on sites like Funeducationalapps.com and Kidseducationalapps.com). The added benefit of these is that they can be used almost anywhere at any time. Where in the past parents may have struggled to keep a child entertained, the answer often now lies at their fingertips.

Reassuringly, it is not just the games manufacturers who claim these products have a positive influence on children’s cognitive skills. Academics, such as Tsung-Yen Chuang, Assistant Professor of Information and Learning Technology, National University of Tainan in Taiwan have come to a similar conclusion, saying, “Research over the last thirty years found that instructional technology can be used to achieve educational goals with higher achievement scores, shorter time to criterion and reduced costs.” And so with an interfusion of traditional and learning activities, healthy lifestyle and a good dose of rhythm, your child’s cognition is certain to grow in leaps and bounds!