5 everyday activities to fuel your child’s brain development

5 everyday activities to fuel your child’s brain development

When children create a flourish with crayons or pencils, they are not only learning tools to kickstart their writing journey, but helping build small-muscle skills and hand-eye coordination. (Photo: Pixabay) By Ritesh Rawal

Modern parents often seek new and advanced ways in which they can help their child hone their mental and cognitive abilities. It’s an uphill task to look for new means, activities, institutions and dynamic individuals who can enable their wards to chart the swifter course of growth and development.

However, as with many other things in life, at times the answer to life’s vexing issues doesn’t lie in complicated solutions, rather simpler ones. A child’s brain development too falls in this category. Modern technology and specialised equipment have arrived only in the last few decades. Before this period, brain development was boosted by every day activities. Suffice to say that these simple solutions are little wonders with massive potential towards brain growth.

Research has proven that a major percentage of the human brain develops in the 0–5-year age bracket through various explorations, interactions and activities a child engages in.

Let us explore five of these “miraculous mundanes”. Just don’t be surprised to see any of these. They do actually work.

Looking in the mirror

Allowing the tiny tots to look in the mirror is a major self-discovery exercise. The young one learns lessons in self-identity – gazing at eyes, nose, mouth, teeth, tongue, hands, limbs, all of which are an enigma to them at that stage. This activity helps them in making social and emotional connections at a later stage. Parents can encourage their children to smile at the mirror to develop a cheerful countenance.

Climbing surfaces

Children love climbing surfaces. They must not be discouraged unless it is too dangerous for them. This may be climbing a dining table, a shoe rack, a slab, a shelf or anything harmless. The natural instinct of the young ones is to explore and while undertaking the climbing activity, chisel the key physical skills of balance and coordination. Here, parents can facilitate the process by getting play equipment tailor made to cater to this need.

Blowing bubbles

The ever so exciting activity of blowing bubbles is known to instil a sense of intrigue, curiosity and scientific temperament in the brain of children. Adding to these benefits is the creative, artistic and mathematical skill development. Parents can help children mix and match the solution at home using detergent powders. Children may seize this as an opportunity to learn even more. When they see the creation process, they may seek answers to why detergents create lather, what are these bubbles, how come they float in the air, what makes them burst, so on and […]

What if teaching mirrored how human brains learn?

What if teaching mirrored how human brains learn?

“Here we are again.” These are the words of one art teacher in Tennessee that reflect educators’ wariness about the new school year as a recent surge in COVID-19 threatens plans to resume in-person learning. Yet in the face of all this continued uncertainty, heroic educators still ask: How can I support my students? They consider both their students’ socio-emotional skills and “unfinished” academic content.

Educators are right to worry about these issues. A 2020 Pew Research Center survey of over 2,500 parents found that 65 percent of them were at least somewhat concerned about their child generally “falling behind” in school, and the majority of them were concerned about their child’s social relationships (60 percent) and emotional well-being (59 percent). Indeed, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggested that virtual learning “might present more risks than in-person instruction” when it comes to mental and emotional health. Academically, widespread reports paint an alarming picture of projected and measured losses in reading and math assessment scores for many students, especially those in underserved communities. This is particularly concerning given recent data revealing that over 1 million students, mostly kindergarteners, did not enroll in school—an alarming trend referred to as the “kindergarten exodus.”

As schools and communities work to better education for the next year, it is vital that they also use the best science of learning to teach children in ways that reflect how the human brain learns.

As the new academic year begins, schools are encouraged to “accelerate learning”—rather than practice deficit-oriented remediation—a charge that will help educators move children forward after a year of tumult by addressing any unfinished content from the previous year within grade-level lessons. As schools and communities work to better education for the next year, it is vital that they also use the best science of learning to teach children in ways that reflect how the human brain learns.

Our education system has always struggled with this task. Educators and scientists alike often fall prey to a problem we call “binning.” We think of socio-emotional skills as independent from academic outcomes. We evaluate student achievement with separate reading and math assessments. In older grades, we assign each subject its own classroom and teacher.

But the science tells us that this is not the way in which human brains learn. Children don’t learn math content only in math class or out-of-school activities pre-labeled “math.” The same holds true for reading. In fact, reading and math skills are built on a similar foundation. Imagine the human brain as a house with a foundation forming a base for learning all kinds of things, like social skills, math, and reading. In the human brain, this foundation is a suite of skills referred to as executive functioning.

A new study investigated whether reading and math skills share the same cognitive base. The researchers measured first graders’ basic reading, math, and executive function skills. The scientists found that children’s outcomes in reading and math were associated with a common set of skills in both subjects, as well as executive function skills. The “house” of reading and math rested on the same psychological foundation.

Twenty-six studies point to more play for young children

Twenty-six studies point to more play for young children

What if one of the answers to reducing inequality and addressing mental health concerns among young children is as simple as providing more opportunities to play? A growing body of research and several experts are making the case for play to boost the well-being of young children as the pandemic drags on—even as concerns over lost learning time and the pressure to catch kids up grow stronger.

Play is so powerful, according to a recent report by the LEGO Foundation , that it can be used as a possible intervention to close achievement gaps between children ages 3 to 6. The report looked at 26 studies of play from 18 countries. It found that in disadvantaged communities, including those in Bangladesh, Rwanda and Ethiopia, children showed significantly greater learning gains in literacy, motor and social-emotional development when attending child care centers that used a mix of instruction and free and guided play. That’s compared to children in centers with fewer opportunities to play, especially in child-led activities, or that placed a greater emphasis on rote learning. This is important, the report’s authors noted, as it shows free and guided play opportunities are possible even in settings where resources may be scarce. “Play can exist everywhere,” said Bo Stjerne Thomsen, chair of Learning Through Play at the LEGO Foundation. “It’s the experience. Testing and trying out new ideas…It’s really about the state of mind you’re in while playing.”

The report found that play enabled children to progress in several domains of learning, including language and literacy, social emotional skills and math. The varieties of play include games, open play where children can freely explore and use their imaginations and play where teachers provide materials and some parameters. The findings suggest that rather than focusing primarily on academic outcomes and school readiness, play should be used as a strategy to “tackle inequality and improve the outcomes of children from different socio-economic groups.” That also means opportunities to play should be considered a marker of quality in early childhood programs, the authors concluded. Stjerne Thomsen said the authors have not defined an ideal amount of play as they believe it can be embedded throughout the day. More importantly, he added, is that teachers are trained to facilitate free play and guided play opportunities. “Play is often defined as recreation…not serious or practical,” said Stjerne Thomsen. Instead, many schools are focused on academic skills and standardized assessments, he added.

The findings of the report, which echo years of related research on the emotional physical and cognitive benefits of play, are notable considering that in America access to play spaces is lacking in many lower-income and rural communities. That became more noticeable during the pandemic when outdoor […]

Continue reading the rest at hechingerreport.org

Ways to Help Sharpen Your Child’s Mind

Learning is easier if you have a better memory. Not only is memory essential to a child’s development, but it’s also a huge factor in terms of future academic success. Children with better memory are able to learn and perform better in the classroom, and generally have a less challenging time in terms of academics.

There are several things that you can do to strengthen your memory. Here are some things you can do to help sharpen your child’s mind.

Encourage Reading

Knowledge is wealth. It’s no surprise that encouraging reading will help sharpen your child’s mind by aiding their mental development. Make your child participate in active reading strategies so that they can easily form long-term memories. These strategies include taking notes, highlighting, reading out loud, and asking and answering questions.

Provide your children with an array of materials to read. Cookbooks, magazines, newspapers, travel itinerates—anything and everything is encouraged. Interact with them about the content that they’ve just read, encourage them to explore their curiosity, and ask questions.

Use All Senses

Taking a multi-sensory approach will go a long way in helping your child with their memory. Try to get them to make use of all their senses while learning. Using a multi-sensory approach has been shown to help children learn better and achieve better memory retention. Sight, touch, and sound can be engaged by having conversations, reading aloud, and using props. For example, if you’re teaching your child about oranges, bring an orange out. Ask them to examine it by touching it, smelling it, tasting it, and counting the seeds inside it. This way, your child is better able to engage with the material at hand, making it easier to remember.

Try Game-Based Learning

Game-based learning is quite simple—it’s learning through games such as interactive play, video games, and more. Games such as chess have been used for centuries to help boost memory power, and recent research has shown that game-based learning has positive effects on problem-solving skills. The concept behind this type of learning is that your child learns through repetition and failure, teaching them to accomplish their goals through creative thinking.

Game-based learning helps in expanding your child’s mind by teaching them to think creatively, thereby sharpening their minds. It encourages a sense of competition, encouraging confidence and self-efficacy. Game-based activities also create feedback, so that children are able to identify and effectively resolve their problems, sharpening their minds.

Improve your child’s memory and help them build confidence with curaJOY’s immersive game-based learning programs. Our games are known to develop problem-solving skills and as well as better social skills through interaction. These games can also help your child gain fluency in both English and Mandarin while aiding the development of emotional and social skills in children through positive reinforcement. Our programs not only boost confidence and social development but also problem-solving skills and can help manage behavioral problems for children with ADHD.

Contact us for more info.