Tips for parents on fun activities to enhance cognitive development amongst kids - Hindustan Times

Tips for parents on fun activities to enhance cognitive development amongst kids

ByZarafshan Shiraz, Delhi
May 05, 2022 01:27 PM IST

Do you lately wonder what is cognitive development? Why is everyone suddenly talking about it? Here's all you need to know from the doctors and also how parents can take up these fun activities to enhance cognitive development amongst children

The ability to process information, think, reason out, problem solve and other aspects of brain development is known as cognitive development. It is the way a child interacts with his/her surrounding environment, attains knowledge thereafter and learns to infer the experience. Our planning for our child’s future, starts with fanning the curiosity, conversations and building projects with household items like buttons, pieces of material, paper and blocks and a child acquires different cognitive development skills as he/she meets developmental milestones.

Tips for parents on fun activities to enhance cognitive development amongst kids (Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash)
Tips for parents on fun activities to enhance cognitive development amongst kids (Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash)

In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Aarti Bakshi, Developmental Psychologist and SEL Consultant at SAAR Education, revealed that if positive school outcomes promoting child well-being, being social and making friends, reducing anxiety and confusion is our requirement, then SEL (social emotional learning), ensures it as well as proper cognitive development. She highlighted the benefits of SEL to ensure cognitive development that include better cognitive control, building coping skills for stress, increase in empathetic responses and behaviour, understanding emotions and building self-esteem and stronger friendships.

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Dr Aarti Bakshi listed ways to increase cognitive development for your child. These include:

1. Encourage them asking questions - This activity lets your little one practice problem solving and critical thinking and it can be done intermittently throughout the day. Children realise that every ‘problem has a solution’, some that they can solve by reading, observing and some by a trusted adult supporting them.

2. Cook together - as a family. Stacking pots and pans, making sandwiches and baking cookies with measurements, all help with cognitive skills.

3. Practice mindfulness and brain gym - which builds attention and focus.

4. Play Memory trays - Keep 10 objects on a tray, let the family see them and then cover after 30 seconds. Let each member recall the items

5. Coping strategies for emotional regulation - Like painting, doodling, drawing, dancing with music, spending time with pets, also in nature, as well as writing gratitude as a family.

6. Get comfortable with real-life situations to be problem-solvers - Through stories, discussing real life daily situations and sharing concerns as a family. When parents share their childhood tales, on how they overcame friendship conflicts, solved childhood issues, it supports developmental skills.

According to Tripti Chowdhary Vaid, Child Psychologist, “As a child goes through the developmental trajectory from birth to adolescence, every aspect of the individual's life develops and grows. To be able to stimulate cognitive development at different ages, one can expose children to different activities that will augment their cognitive abilities.” These are as follows -

1. Newborns: At this stage, newborns can be exposed to mobile cribs and rattles as they help in creating awareness about their environment and thereby enhance their visual acuity. Also, showing babies black and white books with simple patterns will help them.

2. Infancy: At this stage, games like peekaboo, making sounds, or hide-and-seek games can help the child develop cognitive skills as they understand object permanence to them.

3. For toddlers, play becomes a very important factor for helping their cognitive skills to develop. Singing songs to them, light and sound toys, blocks and legos, and stacking toys are important for building cognitive skills. Imaginative play (pretend play) greatly helps as well.

4. School age: For this age group, activities like colouring, mazes, puzzles, reading books, playing sports, learning music or dancing all help in cognitive development.

5. Pre adolescent: At this age, more exposure to board games, books, sports, music, dance and other arts can help augment their cognitive abilities.

6. Adolescence: This is a crucial time as there are many changes and confusions that adolescents go through. Addressing those questions, enabling them to have discussions and thereby forming their own opinions is a good way to develop higher order thinking. Discussions on different topics may help them to understand different perspectives as well.

Thereby, cognitive development is a gradual process and introducing these activities may help in their development. Adding to the list, Purvi Gandhi, Occupational Therapist and Intervention Coach, shared some of the tips for parents to support cognitive brain development at home for their children:

1. Children should be allowed to handle different challenges (within the safety limits). For eg like figuring out how to take the toy which is at a height using the resources available at home.

2. Allow them to problem solve (not always give them ready solutions), for eg if he can’t reach the toy by climbing on the chair, what are the other ways of getting it?

3. Stimulate thinking and planning in small situations. For eg planning his body movements (may have to stand on toes or jump) to get the toy.

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