Brain Building in Progress

Brain-Boosting Activities for Your Preschooler: There’s no way to guarantee your preschooler is going to be a little Einstein. But certain activities for kids aged 3 to 5 are more likely to give their brains an early jump start and put them ahead of the game.  Up until age 2, babies’ and toddlers’ brains are growing by leaps and bounds every day. They develop language and motor skills faster than they ever will.  But between 3 to 5 years, that growth slows. Instead the brain is making countless connections within its different regions.  Preschoolers focus more on absorbing the world around them. Their minds are developing problem-solving skills and using language to negotiate. They’re also learning how to coordinate their bodies to do things like aim and kick a ball.  “Kids should be out there exploring and getting ready for their next important job: going to school,” says developmental pediatrician Michele Macias, MD, spokeswoman for the American Academy of Pediatrics.  Article written by Shahreen Abedin, WebMD.  

One-on-One Time: The No. 1 brain booster for preschoolers is one-on-one time with parents, Macias tells WebMD. Even though this is a time to learn independence, the parent-child attachment is still there at this age. “The simple exchange of language and ideas is a much more important brain builder than putting your child in a million different activities,” says Macias.

Reading Together: Not only is it a great way to get quality “face time” with your child, reading together is critical to boosting brain power.  Studies show that hitting the books with your preschooler improves early literacy. It helps kids sharpen language and vocabulary, and sparks discussions with the parent that promote a better understanding.

Pretend Play: Preschool-aged children naturally have great imaginations. Though they often start pretend play at younger ages, their imagination life really starts to take hold from age 3-5. Besides being fun, imaginative play lets kids experiment with role playing. Imaginative play also helps language skills, because it involves thinking about things in words and repeating what they hear.

Games and Puzzles: From Candy Land to “Duck, Duck, Goose”, games with rules help improve social intelligence. Kids practice patience in taking turns, and learn to accept the frustration of not winning.  Physical games help sharpen the brain’s motor coordination.  Working puzzles promotes nonverbal reasoning and the ability to visualize. The brain’s fine motor coordination area gets a jolt as little fingers learn to fit the pieces.

Keep It Light, Loose, and Fun: Remember the value of unstructured (free) play. Be involved in their playtime. But don’t try to control too much of it or they can lose some of its benefits -- especially in developing creativity, leadership, and group skills. Whatever activities you choose, make sure it’s fun for your child. Go easy on the pressure. And above all, just let your kid enjoy the sheer pleasure of being a kid.



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