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Have FUN with Cognitive Activities!

04/09/2013

“Live to learn and learn to live”. Most of us are familiar with this saying but might not have given much thought about the possibilities of its statement. After all, hasn’t it been said that one “cannot teach an old dog new tricks”? Well, even that has been debunked. The fact is that our brains have the ability to change and create new connections between neurons (the cells that construct the brain) throughout our lives.

 

While everyone can benefit from regular cognitive training, the brains of young children are at a highly impressionable and flexible stage in which neural connections get formed at a quicker pace. This highly impressionable brain can work both ways and can either bring about positive or negative effects depending on the child’s experiences.

 

In our first article, we mentioned the different types of cognitive skills. They include perception, attention, memory, motor, language, visual and spatial processing and executive functions. These skills are essential for total development and the good news is that a person’s cognitive abilities can always be trained to become stronger, at any age!

 

Cognitive skills are not difficult to be trained. All you need are simple resources and some time set aside daily. Here are some fun and engaging activities you can practise with your child to develop their cognitive skills.

 

I Spy

In ‘I Spy’, have your child take turns with you to choose an object within both of your visual range. The other one of you will have to guess the chosen object by looking attentively at the surroundings and asking relevant questions to arrive at the correct answer. This fun and simple game works not just on visual skills, but also on relational thinking and reasoning.

 

Remember the Story

Find a short paragraph of a story or an article and have your child read it once. Say a short list of words that did and did not appear in the paragraph and ask your child to identify the words that appeared in the story. Words that are specific to the story should be picked instead of common words like “the”, “she”, “they”, etc. This activity can enhance one’s visual and auditory attending skills by encouraging focus on information presented visually and aurally.

 

Map Reading

Draw a 4-by-4 grid which makes up 16 squares on a piece of paper. Label each grid with the layout of the area around the house (e.g. school, park, shopping mall, and playground). With the use of figurines, have your child follow a set of instructions (e.g. walk one step North and turn and walk one step South). Gradually increase the complexity by giving longer sets of instructions and by introducing more directions (e.g. North-East, South-West, etc). Map reading improves spatial perspective skills by enhancing the ability to visualise objects in the mind and see things from a different perspective.

 

Twister

This game is a hit with most kids and they get to train their gross motor and evaluation skills while having fun. Besides buying a Twister game set, you can also choose to make your own sheet. Join a few large pieces of paper together with tape and fill the pieces of paper with different rolls of coloured circles or different symbols such as letters, numbers and shapes.

 

Role Playing

Recreate a scene from a place or event that your child has some knowledge of. This scene can either be from a restaurant, an airport or a carnival. Give your child a role to play (e.g. waiter, customs officer, game stall owner) and interact with him or her based on his or her role. To make things more interesting, you could even introduce unique and challenging situations not usually experienced. This activity helps to encourage verbal relations, abstract thinking and creativity. 

 

Our brains respond to challenges and not comfort. Constantly working on new activities will stimulate our brains by creating new connections. Learn, explore and play more – our brains are capable of so much more!

 

Article contributed by ThinkersBox ~ a Cognitive Development Specialist

 

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