How To Develop Your Child’s Learning And Thinking Abilities
Kids can improve on their ability to perceive, think, learn, and interact
Executive function is life skills that help children remain productive and interact better with society
There are various ways to aid your child to become better equipped with these life skills.
With each passing second, your child gets the chance to develop their life skills as they interact with their surroundings. These life skills include the ability to reason, concentrate, filter distractions, stop, and take matching actions according to changes. Science term these abilities “executive function” or “cognitive control.”
Without these core skills, no child can carry out informed decisions, take up leadership roles, care about others' emotions, or recognize theirs. They won’t be able to take those baby steps to critical thinking, adaptability, and teamwork. This is why these skills shouldn’t only be there but be developed over the years from their toddler stage to teen hood.
Here is how executive functions work and how to develop them.
The team working behind the scene
Underneath the cognitive skills is the complex workings of neurons (brain cells). Picture these neurons as small trees that grow and create branches or connections (neural pathways) with each other. These pathways don’t touch. Instead, they pass information (electrical signals) and food (chemicals) through the small gap between them termed “synapses.”
The more chances your kid has to learn about the world and an object of interest, the more extensions these neurons make and the stronger used connections become, hence, sharpening learned skills while passing the right information to the right neuron.
Now, not all pathways develop as they go. Just like a car can never grow taller than its initial production size, there are connections that are formed from birth. You can call them “non-activity based” neural pathways. An example of such connections is the branches for breathing.
Other pathways develop from inputs and will continue to develop until early adulthood. These branches are called activity-dependent pathways, and that’s where the executive functions fall under. This means as your child learns new sounds, smells, sensations, visuals, feelings, and new ways to do things, they flex these muscles (pathways) and ensure that before adulthood, their cognitive skills are sharp and ready to rumble.
How to develop your child’s cognitive skills
Sometimes, the current muscle (pathway) responsible for a certain core action isn’t strong enough, and as such, your child doesn’t seem to excel in a said skill or area. That’s because the brains of some kids don’t utilize their food (chemicals) as should. This makes it harder for some pathways to develop and strengthen themselves.
However, introducing your child to different active ways of learning like differentiating numbers based on colors, or associating colors to emotions, can compel their brain cells to create new pathways that grow and achieve the same purpose. Kids' brains are flexible like that, and this ability is termed “plasticity.”
Below are some fun and engaging ways to aid your child to sharpen their life skills and build new connections:
1. Build emotions through affection
Kids learn what you do faster than what you teach. So, the first thing you want to do is build a loving and fun environment for your child. No one wants a boring or demoralizing environment, certainly not your child. It kills the willingness and energy to push themselves to overcome challenges.
By providing them with a loving and playful environment, you set the foundation for them to learn new things. They don’t have to worry about your approval or love, just concentrating on the task at hand.
Also, by expressing your emotions to your kids through kisses, hugs, claps, and mild nudges, you actively teach them how to use body language to express their emotions.
2. Often engage in memory and perception building activities
Whenever you have the chance to sing a song to your child. Hum it, sing it, and compel your child to sing along with you. If it is the alphabet song, don’t hesitate to point them out wherever you find them. In the process of time, they will join you to hum and sing the same song.
By doing this, you help them to improve their memory and also to realize that an alphabet can come in different designs and sizes, which enhances their perception.
3. Play a group game
You and your child can form a group where you take turns. You can take a soft, mini plastic ball, or something of interest and show your toddler. You make the rules, but keep it simple and let it incorporate playing with the ball for a short period and handing it over to the next person. Enjoy the game as long as time and interest permits.
By doing this, you help your child build their ability to stop an activity they love, allow others to have their turn, and remember what they should be doing when it is their turn again. You also build their confidence.
Other games you can try are carrying out an activity like dancing, jumping, or stretching based on whatever activity-sketch you show. This is best enjoyed with a groom of three or more members. There should be a timeout between each activity to build their inhibitory control and working memory.
4.Try multidimensional, fun and educational app
It is a given that you might have a tight schedule and less time to often engage in the fun activities that encourage active learning. But that shouldn’t be the end of the world. Your child’s learning development is pretty important, and being updated about their progress allows you to determine the right games, assignments, and fun activities to introduce to them.
Apps like GiantLeap gives you a chance to do all that – based on a gamified assessment, it chooses the most appropriate content for your child so you don’t have to worry about making these hard decisions alone. Some of these apps target kids between 4-6 years old and introduce various fun and engaging games plus exercises that help your child build their ability to sense, stop, think, express themselves, take thought-out decisions based on changes or choices, remember, and much more.
With these tools, you can mark your child’s individual growth while giving them their space to evolve on all life skills.
Intelligence and social skills are not just what we are born with. They are built
Developing new educational games can help kids’ brains develop new pathways to learn things
Apps like GiantLeap help your child develop all their brain core skills without needing supervision