10 Important Activities To Stimulate Your Child’s Brain Development
A few months back, when I was busy in the kitchen, my 2 year old came running to me, “Mamma please come here, I want to show you something.” and she held my hand and started pulling me. I was clueless what it is going to be this time?
She was quiet for almost half an hour and I was too time pressed to check on her several times. When I had peeped once, she was busy opening her puzzle box I had got her the day before. She is a naughty 2.5 yr. old, intelligent, who is a super observer, a quick imitator and of course an explorer like most kids her age. She is always up to something but I am not so worried because she is not kind of destructive or aggressive. But you never know what mischief a child is capable of?
A fast train of thoughts started running through my mind, what all could she possibly do? Coloured the wall behind the curtain? Opened the cabinet and pulled out all the books? Or what else? Holding my breath I went on to check. I was dumbstruck to see she had put the 36 piece farm floor jigsaw puzzle together correctly and perfectly. And she was explaining “mummy this is a cow, horse, sheep, and duck.”
I was happy she could do it herself and proud of her achievement. She had raised her own performance standards, from solving the smaller 6-10 piece puzzles to a big 36 piece one. And this leap was way too faster & beyond my expectation.
My efforts were paying off. I recollected her pediatrician’s advice, she had said the first 6 years of a child’s life are significant for his brain development and you should provide him conducive environment and stimulate his brain activity to help him achieve his full potential. Do not hold your child back under the pretence of not stressing him with new work or vocabulary or games. I had kept that in mind and followed her advice and done several things starting early.
Here's What I Did To Stimulate My Child’s Brain Activity:
1. Communicate With The Child
I used to talk to my darling daughter continuously (right from her birth won’t be an exaggeration). I used to label every action I was doing, right from standing up, sitting down, singing, cooking and everything. I also labelled every object she was looking at like door, plate, stroller, shoes: feeling like wind, heat, cold: Tasting- like sour, sweet, salty - and so on-literally everything. So by the time she was 9 months, she had good vocabulary, a good grasp of all the activities people did around her and understood tastes.
2. Introduce Books, Storytelling And Narrating Events
Books play a very vital role in both brain development, language skills and also a first step to gross motor skill development (holding book, turning pages). I had introduced cloth books & soft sponge books to her as early as 2 months, board books from 5 months and paper books after she turned 1. She liked colourful objects, animals, birds & shapes till around 9 months and then loved listening to simple short stories from illustrated books (no fairy tales). And activity books (match the shadows, pairing similar objects) after she turned 2.
3. Ask Questions To Stimulate Thinking Process
As I introduced the books, I named the objects she was seeing in all languages I knew, then gradually started describing them (shape, colour, utility), if it was animal or bird book- I explained the environment in which they are found, etc. And then always asked herquestions (pointing at a rabbit) - instead of asking “what is this?” I asked her “it has long ears, short fluffy tail, is soft & white like cotton?”. I continued with the exercise even when we went out to some shop or mall. Played the “I spy” game in the house & outdoors describe objects and ask her to identify them. It was fun.
4. Let Your Kids Explore - Touch, Feel, Smell, Taste
I encouraged the natural tendency kids have to explore the world around them. (But of course with discretion). I never stopped her from playing with stones or mud in the garden or other things like tasting sour lime or bitter gourd, smell a flower on the plant etc. This way she learnt by herself that stones were hard, mud was soft, ice was cold, paper could be torn with hands and rubber bands were elastic & so on. Things which were not safe for her we explained to her & kept out of reach- like touching a hot cup of tea could burn her skin, pressing against a glass door could break the glass, playing with a sharp object could hurt etc.
5. Music-Dance-Physical Activity
Kids love music & I was not surprised the other day when she sang the whole song “lakdi ki kathi, kathi pe ghoda” and danced to the tune as well. She now sings quite a few songs & rhymes. And seems like she has now developed a good ear for music because she has been listening to it since childhood. I also noticed that a soothing instrumental piece calms her down whereas a song like “lungi dance” excites her and she dances like crazy. So dance becomes a good physical activity to channelize the unending energy of a kid and singing & listening to songs becomes a great mental activity.
6. Building Event Memory, Associating Things & Situations
Kids these days use our smartphones very dexterously and photos is their favourite part .Although I have limited her total gadget time(phone, iPad,TV ) to 30-45 minutes, I make good use of the photos she sees to build her event memory. Whenever she sees some old photos, I describe to her what was the event, what did she do, who all were present, which places we had visited etc. After several repetitions this activity has helped her build memory of past events and also she recognizes people from the photos even if she meets them after a long time. She has learnt to associate certain things with specific events as well- like lanterns with Diwali or Santa Claus with Christmas.
It was okay if she spilled a little food or water on the table initially but she learnt to hold her own spoon & cup. It took a lot of time to wear shoes, most of the times she put them on wrong feet, but now she wears them perfectly. Kids figure out things themselves and we don’t actually need to tell them how to do it, we need to give them some time. I am happy my child eats independently, can comb her hair, brush her teeth & wear her own shoes. I always encouraged her to do these simple activities even if they were time consuming initially and she couldn’t do them at all.
8. Age Appropriate Toys, Art and Craft
Using age appropriate toys like building blocks, push & go toys, insert shapes in slots for gross motor skills development, some simple paper folding art, gluing stickers on papers, colouring for fine motor skills. Puzzles of different kinds for brain stimulation etc. All these have helped a lot.
9. Logical Reasoning & Decision Making
Kids naturally think logically and we just have to encourage this to stimulate their brain activity and enhance their thinking process. I always try to reason things to her (wherever possible). And she has developed the same habit. I make her choose between two things at times- as in which dress she wants to put on or which game she wants to play- the decision making is a good brain stimulator.
10. The Most Important - Excellent Nutrition
Good food is a key to good development and good mood as well. A healthy body nurtures a healthy mind. Fortunately, my daughter is not a finicky eater but there are days when she gives me a hard time. A balanced nutritious diet is extremely necessary – vegetables (sometimes added to parathas), seasonal fruits, eggs, pulses, milk (with Junior Horlicks- because it has vital nutrients essential for brain development), roti, rice, whole grain breads, wheat pastas, curd, cheese etc.
And of course a scoop of ice-cream sometimes & some sweets once in a while.
A good blend of all these activities has brought my child a long way, she has a good grasp of language, motor skills are developed, sings, dances, concentration level has increased and has become a little more independent. A little effort from our end pays in the longer run by making a child ready for his future.