Many adults these days seem to have an interest in ‘brain training‘ because it promises to help them get more from their grey matter. Methods like using ‘nootropic‘ cognitive enhancing pills and reading brain development books are getting very popular. People are also signing up for brain training programs like Luminosity; there are all kinds of methods you can use in order to increase efficiency of your brain and theoretically get more done in a day.
While some of these programs and strategies can be useful in fine tuning our ability to think though, the changes will still often be minimal. The problem is that our brains are older and we have become set in our ways. Though research into ‘brain plasticity’ and ‘neuro genesis’ shows us that we can build new cells and alter the very shape of our brains, this takes a lot of work and is a slow process at best.
Children on the other hand are still developing. They have much more supple and flexible minds that can be far more easily moulded and improved, so how might they respond to brain training? Is it moral? And what kind of brain training methods would be best suited to their younger ways of thinking?
Getting More From Young Minds
First of all, the issue of morality. Is it right to make a child think faster or more productively? I would argue that there’s nothing wrong with, but as long as that brain training is geared toward them. While they will benefit later in life from having more smarts and quicker minds, children need to be given the chance to be children and should be given some time to develop creatively the way that they enjoy.
Fortunately, there are some things that kids already love doing that will help with their cognitive function. Here are some examples…
If your child seems to be struggling with language or has a speech delay then you may wish to encourage some reading to help them learn more words and phrases. The only problem here though is that few children who already struggle reading are going to want to take on a big book.
The solution then is to get your children to read comics which are a lot more visual and action oriented. They’re quick reads so they won’t be quite so daunting but the vocabulary and language is still often quite advanced. If you can’t get your child into Shakespeare… try Spider-Man.
Most parents don’t think too highly of computer games, but actually they’ve been shown to act as great brain training in a number of ways – improving reactions, special awareness and abstract thinking. Better yet if you can encourage and interesting in coding in your children you’ll get them using advanced maths and loving it.
Sports are great for brain development in many ways – aiding social skills, planning and focus. They will also improve your child’s health and fitness and this in turn can help learning.
Board games are a great opportunity to interact with your children and to play together rather than letting them get on with it themselves. Better yet, games like checkers and memory will help to sharpen a number of useful cognitive skills at the same time.
Martha Pattinson is a child care specialist. She has a passion for blogging and talks about child care and development issues on her blogs. She also likes reading and has taken part in many child care awareness campaigns.