A child’s brain is like a very active sponge that is constantly developing and adapting. This process is something we need to take advantage of in the best way possible. It’s imperative that we find new and interesting activities or techniques to stimulate our child’s mind. This will ensure that their brains are kept healthy whilst allowing them to tap into their inner creativity and imagination, a combination that will help them excel later on in life.
Nutritional Medicine Practitioner and Educator Warren Maginn offers 10 tips and techniques to support your child’s brain health and wellbeing.
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1. Encourage exploration and play
A child needs to be allowed to explore the world and engage in the beauty of discovery, investigation and experimentation. Whether it’s examining flowers in the garden or hiking up a mountain, building a sand castle or swimming in the ocean, these activities allow your child to think and to discover new ideas and places, all the while stimulating their senses.
2. Board games and puzzles
Board games and puzzles are not only educational, but also an ideal way to stimulate a child’s imagination. They allow your child to think and identify new ways to solve problems, and they help to develop fine motor skills. The great part about these kinds of activities is that children have so much fun, they learn in a completely effortless way.
3. Take your child on day trips
Turn your child into a culture geek and they will be forever grateful. Weekly excursions to a museum, art gallery or aquarium are extremely informative and mentally stimulating. These places contain so much movement, history, colour and mystery, they keep a child excited, alert and wanting more.
4. Healthy food means a healthy brain
As much as your child may fight you for presenting them with funny looking veggies for dinner, it’s important that you include healthy foods in their diet. The vitamins and nutrients found in vegetables play a vital role in the healthy development of a child’s brain and body. Try incorporating nutritious foods into your child’s diet from day one, and it will stand them in good stead for the rest of their lives.
5. Incorporate omega 3 supplements into your child’s diet.
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is an omega-3 essential fatty acid that helps support brain and visual development and function, especially during prenatal development, in growing babies and in children. DHA is required for optimal health but cannot be produced by the body, so it must be obtained through diet or supplements. DHA is found in cold-water fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, lake trout, and sardines. High quality, purified fish and algae oils are also safe, effective sources of DHA.
6. Exercise and hobbies
There is an abundance of research on the relation between exercise and healthy cognitive functioning in children. Whether your child plays soccer, goes swimming or even has piano classes, involvement in some kind of extra-curricular activity after school is something that will enhance memory, concentration, behaviour and academic achievement.
7. Teach your child another language
It has been said that bilingual children are smarter than those who speak just one language, because speaking two requires using different parts of the brain. If you don’t know another language this is actually a fantastic opportunity for you to learn one with your child, even just a little. It can enhance general communication skills, as well as help your child see the world from a new perspective.
Everyone has different parenting skills, but this doesn’t mean that all discipline should go out the window. Setting limits is actually a way of teaching and when your child has done something that you disapprove of, it’s important to tell them why it was wrong, but in a positive way. In doing so, you stimulate their sense of boundaries and control, which is a necessary tool for guidance later on in life.
9. Read and sing to your child
Singing and reading to your child allows for them to participate in something engaging, fun and stimulating while developing their brain at the same time. While singing entertains your child and enhances their linguistic skills, reading improves their attention spans and sets them up for academic achievement later on in life.
10. Socialise your child
Make an effort and take every opportunity within your community to include your child in birthday parties and after school play dates, because social skills are valuable at every stage of life. Spending time with other children will teach your child about forming friendships, other personality types and ultimately, empathy and compassion for people.
What activities or techniques have your children responded to positively?
For information visit www.researchnutrition.com.au.