If you’ve heard about brain training and wonder what it can do for your kid, you are not alone. Everyone wants the best for their kids, and brain training probably sounds like something that would benefit them. Let’s take a closer look at what brain training is and what it can do.
What’s Brain Training?
Brain training is a program of regular mental activities that can improve or maintain cognitive or executive functions such as:
- Time Management
- Remembering Details
- Regulating Emotions
While everyone can benefit from brain training, there are three core areas where brain training is particularly beneficial for kids.
- Expands working memory by training multiple levels of memory.
- Improves attention by helping them focus on tasks and move quickly from one task to another.
- Enhances information retention by helping them recall information and use it in an appropriate context.
Here are six ways you can help your child improve their executive function–and they don’t all involve screen time. The good news: these activities also work for adults.
Elevator Breathing or Deep Breathing
For kids, the name says it all. Elevator breathing, what we adults call deep breathing, means moving the breath to all the parts of the body. That means drawing the breath deep into the belly and using the diaphragm. But kids don’t get it when you put it that way. Here’s what to say instead.
- Start sitting or lying down, breathing naturally.
- Imagine the lungs are an elevator moving the breath through the body.
- Breathe in through the nose and draw the breath into the belly to make the elevator descend.
- Hold for a count or two.
- Make the elevator come back up by exhaling up through the chest and out the nose.
- Hold for a count or two, and repeat.
Brain/Body Connection Workout
When we exercise our bodies and our brains together, we help many areas of the brain work together. Try these exercises to improve the brain/body connection.
Wiggling the Toes
Before getting out of bed each morning, have your child slowly move all the toes on both feet up and down. Then switch to just the big toes.
Using the Non-Dominant Hand
Have your kids use their non-dominant hand to do things such as eating, getting dressed, and writing.
Simple Coordination Exercises
Have your child sit and touch their right elbow to their left knee five times, then alternate. Or have them stand with their feet spread apart and touch their left foot with their right hand, then alternate. Repeat these exercises several times.
For younger children, line up a few of their toys. Have them turn around, when they do, remove one of the toys. See if they can tell which one you’ve removed. Have them try to remember a shortlist of familiar objects. Then have them remember them backward.
Play Games as a Family
Who knew a good old-fashioned family game night was brain training. Games such as checkers, chess, and card games, teach planning, problem-solving, and cooperation. Board games that involve strategy, attention, coordination, and learning to handle frustration are also good choices.
Playing Games Online
Check out some websites that offer free games that improve a variety of skills and are fun at the same time. This is screen time you don’t have to worry about.
Make Time to Talk
Take time each day to talk with each child and learn about their day, any challenges they’ve had and any triumphs. And share your own. This valuable time will not only strengthen your bond but also improve their communication and problem-solving skills. Or read a book together and discuss what is happening, and what they think about it.
Participating in these activities with your kids will not only help improve their brain function but also build your relationship. Time with your children is precious, and when you are having fun together, it is even more valuable.