Guest Post by Tracey: How to improve your child's cognitive skills

As May begins, we're thankful to welcome Tracy from High Styled Life to the BUSHBABY journal. Read on as she helps us understand what is going on in the heads of our little ones.

Our brain is probably the most important organ we have since it drives the entire organism and the nerve impulses it sends throughout the body regulate our behavior, our cognition and our feelings. This is why we as parents and educators need to provide the best possible conditions for our children’s brain development. It is possible to exercise the brain from the earliest age and here are some ideas that can help you train your child’s brain to function at its optimal level.

Physical exercise
When we are physically active, our brains get more oxygen and grow better establishing more synaptic connections and making the brain faster in the muscle to nerve response. Any physical activity is beneficial, but especially those motoric exercises that involve the use of both hands and feet since these are directly connected with brain growth. I have found the simplest way to get my kids to use these is to buy them jump rope, hula hoop, to teach them skipping games and take them swimming. Cycling, skating, rollerblading and playing ball games work great as well.

Even if we make sure we take the kids out into the nature on a regular basis, they won’t get the most of it if they don’t know how to breathe properly. Most people need to be taught how to breathe deeply, from the bottom of their bellies in order to oxygenate the brain well. There are ancient breathing techniques we have inherited from rich spiritual traditions of the world, one of which is Pranayama and I have tried it with my girls. The sooner they learn how to breathe properly, the more benefits they will reap, including stress regulation, a strong central nervous system and good cognitive skills.

What physical exercise is for the body, meditation is for the brain – meditation is the workout for our brains and there is not a single activity that develops brains faster than meditation. It can even increase the IQ and the grey cell count in adults, and if we get our kids started early, they are likely to develop high intelligence, quick logical thinking, concentration, focus, the strength of spirit and willpower. They will also learn how to remain calm and composed in most situations, how to regulate their thoughts and emotions, which is what most adults lack. If we started children on meditation now, our society would improve in one generation and this trend is on the rise.

Children learn through playing games and we only need to provide them with some good choices to help them along. The least we can do is make a smart selection of toys that develop cognitive skills. Some examples are board games, memory games, Monopoly, puzzles, scrabble, checkers, chess and the like. Nowadays, you can find many online games that are useful like Sudoku games, math games, Funbrain games, literacy and spelling games and so on. Children can practice anything from geography to calculus and art online now and the great thing about it is that most children are highly motivated to play with new technologies and learn in this way. This kind of learning is very effective and lets the kids be independent learners. Of course, you can always play a board game with them on a family night; nothing can replace family time.

If you instill the love for reading in your kids from their early childhood, they are likely to continue reading throughout their lives and keep developing their cognitive abilities this way. Reading builds knowledge, concentration, imagination, logic and intelligence. You can start with lap reading sessions and designate a special corner in your home just for this. Later you can take your kids to the library and to literary events for children.

Kids’ brains have a naturally immense potential for growth and all you need to do is some strategic planning of activities that will develop their skill sets and habits in the best possible way.

Tracey Clayton is a full time mom of three girls, + writes at High Style Life. She feels she knows a thing or two about raising happy, healthy and confident kids, and offers helpful advice in her parenting articles. Her motto is: “Live the life you love, love the life you live.”