Raising a child can often be daunting. With new information coming out every day, showing how children’s early formative years heavily impact the adults they grow into, being a good, attentive parent early on is no easy feat. Between trying to socialize them to properly understand their nutritional requirements, we often forget how to engage their cognition and help stimulate it.
When we think, we make the brain fire off different electrical impulses, creating new neural pathways, making mental activity key in cognitive development. There are ways to help your child develop their mind, even from a young age. While kindergarten, preschool, and the K-12 school program will work with you, they are often deemed boring by children, making them unengaged.
Here are some fun activities you can do with your child to support their cognitive development to help them grow while having fun.
Learning A New Language
Children in homes with two languages spoken will likely have faster cognitive development. The brain has many areas that all need stimulation, one of which is the language and communication section. Children learning more than one language can identify objects easier as they have more words to do so, experience more ease with communication, and activate a part of the brain that would be less active otherwise.
There are also copious other advantages to learning a second language at a young age. Teaching your child a second language can be difficult if you don’t speak one yourself, but it is possible. There are copious methods and tools available to teach a new language in fun and engaging ways, and there are also many helpful tips to make the learning process easier and keep you and your child motivated. Choose a language that can offer utility for your child too to maximize the benefits.
Seeing the same old things day in and day out offers little to mental engagement. We learn through a variety of different ways, but the common and critical aspect of learning is discovery. Seeing new places, visiting unseen territories, and engaging with a new environment supports a child’s cognitive development. If you can travel with your child, you can expose them to a new world. However, if you can’t go on fully-fledged trips, simply go to different places. Friday is when you eat out? Try a different restaurant.
Something as simple as going to a different grocery store may hold enough changes to stimulate your child’s mind. Keep them engaged in these new places by pointing out things they may not notice on their own, asking them questions, and having them participate in the activity you’re doing at whichever location you visit. This constant engagement and exposure to new environments help stimulate brain activity and develop your child’s cognitive ability.
Indeed, puzzles are amazing. They challenge you in both your mental ability to solve them as well as pushing your competitive nature. Puzzles come in all shapes and sizes and, most importantly, degrees of complexity. Whether it’s a jigsaw, a matching exercise, or a number-based puzzle, you can keep your kids interested in the activity while consistently developing their minds. You do, however, need to monitor your child closely when they solve puzzles. If it is too difficult for them, they will eventually quit. And, conversely, if they’re too easy, they will grow bored very quickly and stop. You need to make sure you assess their skill level and challenge them appropriately. You also need to vary the types of puzzles they do. Every puzzle offers a different path to its solution, each engaging different parts of the child’s mind, all working together to develop their cognition.
If your kid doesn’t like puzzles, don’t push them too much. There’s a great solution; games! Puzzles can often be boring, or maybe your child doesn’t want to work on their own, or simply needs more physical activity while learning. To remedy all of these issues, you can play games with them. Often, if your child is preoccupied with a game that has a mental aspect to it, they will engage their mind and cognitive ability without noticing.
Really, it’s a sneaky way to make them learn without noticing. All games, even something as basic as hide and seek, offer mental engagement. The key is to vary the games, their difficulty, and offer change. This could mean simply playing the game in a different environment or with different people. As long as it involves a mental aspect and is stimulating, it’s going to be both fun and beneficial.
The world is becoming more and more competitive every day. It’s becoming a world where the smart and hard-working succeed. With early formative years being as critical as they are in mental development, focusing on your children’s cognitive development is key. Keep it fun and interesting, and watch them learn and grow and develop.