Developing cognitive skills is one of the most important aspects of a child’s development. Responsible for promoting and strengthening thought processes, reasoning, problem-solving, and recalling information, cognitive abilities can be supported through a variety of activities and techniques. As a parent or teacher, you can help your student reach their full potential with a few simple approaches.
Here are 6 techniques for enhancing cognitive ability in kids.
1. Puzzles and Games
One of the best ways to boost a child’s cognitive ability is by playing puzzles and games with them. Puzzles help to improve problem-solving skills, while games such as chess or checkers can enhance their ability to strategize. Board games such as Scrabble and Boggle will also help children learn how to spell words while allowing them to practice their reading comprehension skills. While not technically a game, parents and teachers can try elkonin boxes, a fun and simple activity used to help students strengthen their reading skills.
2. Memory Games
Memory games are great for helping children improve their memory retention and recall. Examples include matching cards or finding items amongst other items that are placed on a table or tray.
Memory games can also be played with flashcards or word tiles, allowing kids to practice their memorization skills while having fun at the same time. Memory games involve connecting pieces of information, which helps stimulate the neural pathways responsible for memory retention and increases problem solving techniques.
3. Be an Active Listener
Children need adults who are willing to actively listen when they are telling stories or talking about something they have learned in school. Active listening means giving your full attention, responding with questions about the topic being discussed, and providing positive feedback whenever possible. When children feel heard and understood, they are more confident in their communication skills and encouraged to express their creativity.
4. Outdoor Activities
Research shows that spending time outdoors enhances cognitive function in kids because it allows them to interact with nature on a sensory level which encourages creative thought processes. Going for walks in nature or playing outdoor sports such as soccer or basketball gives children an opportunity to explore new places while building physical and mental strength, which is essential for good health.
By getting regular exposure to fresh air, sunshine, and physical movement, children nurture their cognition by increasing the flow of oxygen to the brain, improving memory and concentration levels.
5. Playful Learning
Whenever possible, learning should be a fun experience. Incorporating play into learning activities will help keep kids engaged while teaching them valuable lessons that they can apply in any environment.
Playing make-believe games that involve pretending scenarios is particularly helpful because it allows kids to practice problem-solving by coming up with solutions without any guidance from adults. Parents and teachers can support these learning opportunities by providing toys and materials, designating time and space for exploration, interacting with students, and posing challenging questions.
6. Technology Timeouts
Although technology can be beneficial when used appropriately, too much screen time can have negative effects on cognitive development in children. As parents and teachers, it’s important to monitor the amount of time kids spend using devices each day. Setting screen time limits (e.g., no more than 2 hours per day) ensures that kids have plenty of time for other activities such as after school sports, reading, quality time with family, and relaxing without distractions.
There are numerous ways to enhance cognitive ability at any age, however by working to support your students while they are still growing and developing, you can help them sharpen and retain lifelong critical thinking skills.
From puzzles and board games that encourage problem solving strategies, memory exercises designed to enhance memory retention, active listening opportunities, outdoor activities, playful learning approaches, to technology timeouts, students have an abundance of tools from which to choose from and can access what they need to enhance their cognitive function and ability.