How to Boost Your Child’s Brain Power
Apart from enrolling your child into an academic enrichment program like Kumon, you may think there is little else you can do to help your child practice his or her math and reading skills. However, there are a number of ways you can help your child reach his or her intellectual potential.
- Start the day off with a healthy breakfast
Research from the Ulm University in Germany show how important breakfast is in helping your child’s mental performance throughout the morning. Studies from Ulm University show that students who ate breakfast not only were more alert than their counterparts who skipped breakfast, but also have better visual-spatial memory. You are ensuring that your child has the right biological constitution for academic success by making sure that your child eats a hearty and healthy breakfast.
- Ask Open-ended Questions
Ask your child open-ended questions such as “Why do you think this happened?” This can help encourage your child to think critically and make connections between various concepts. In addition, by asking open-ended questions, you can use it as an opportunity to spark a discussion about your child’s thoughts. Instead of asking your child how his or her day at school was, try asking “What did you do today?” or “What was your favorite part about school today?” Be sure to follow-up with questions based on his or her responses.
- Make Sleep a Priority
Sleep deficiency could play a major role in decreased academic performance, difficulties in retaining focus, and lower test scores according to studies from researchers at UCLA. “Studies have shown that children who don’t get sufficient sleep are more likely to do poorly in school and be identified as having learning difficulties and/or attention problems,” says psychologist Jodi Mindell, Ph.D., associate director of the Sleep Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. You are helping ensure that your child’s cognitive functioning and problem-solving abilities are ready to solve each and every new problem he or she will encounter. To see if your child is getting enough sleep each night, visit our post to see the recommended number of hours of sleep your child needs.
- Focus on One Task at a Time
A recent study by researchers at the University of Leuven in Belgium found that children at the ages of nine and 11 struggled to perform activities that required them to divide their attitudes between two different tasks. The research showed that it is more efficient for young children to focus on a single task rather than doing multiple ones while their brains are still being developed. So be sure to enforce a “No TV while doing homework” rule and to encourage your child to focus his or her attention on a specific task before moving to another.
- Brain Boosting Foods
Research has shown that foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids play a critical role in the brain development of young children. A recent study from the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine found that healthy boys from eight to ten years old, who received daily doses of 1,200 milligrams of docosahexaenoic (DHA), the primary fatty acid in gray matter, experienced activations in areas of the brain that could increase improvements in attention and memory. In addition, a study from the U.K. found that foods rich in complex carbohydrates can help children maintain mental performance, specifically in the areas of attention and memory. Foods such as nuts, eggs, yogurt and peanut butter can provide children with the key nutrients they need for their developing minds and bodies. For more foods that can help keep your child fueled throughout the day, visit our blog post on foods that can boost your child’s brain power.
Regular physical activity is beneficial for every aspect of a child’s health, including brain function. Research at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign found that children who are more aerobically fit perform better on cognitive tasks requiring attention and control. In addition, a recent study at the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta found in a 13 week study that sedentary kids ages seven to 11 experienced improvements to cognitive functions and in their ability to do math after 20 to 40 minutes of daily exercise. By signing up your children for the sport of their choice and by making exercise a regular part of your child’s daily routine, you can help to keep him or her mentally and physically active.
- Read a Book
Reading can also be an invaluable way to help boost your child’s brain power, from building vocabulary, helping to improve brain development, and to building critical thinking skills. When reading with and to your child, always be sure to make it an interactive experience by asking thought-provoking questions about the story, such as “how do you think this character feels?” and “how would you feel going through this situation?” in order to help relate the character to your child’s own life.
- Homework Routine
Creating a structured routine and maintaining an orderly and quiet setting for your child to complete homework can help create an atmosphere that promotes learning. Your child will be able to focus better which can help he or she’s brain function more efficiently. For more tips on ways to create an environment conducive to doing homework, check out these tips on ways you can help your child with homework.