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When you think about the ways you can support and enhance your child’s cognitive development, you may only consider rigorous teaching sessions or repetitive learning drills. However, there are many exciting activities you can get involved in that will stimulate your child’s developing brain while you have fun at home. By engaging your child in these activities, you’ll contribute to their cognitive development while keeping them busy and active.
Singing is a fun way to bond with your child and improve their brain’s memory function. With repetitive and fun childhood songs, such as “Old McDonald” or “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star,” your child can test their ability to memorize lyrics.
This memorization also boosts your child’s confidence. You can start singing to your child at any age, but they’ll generally start engaging and singing along at around three or four years of age.
Not only does dancing promote memory, spatial awareness, and coordination, it’s also a great stress reliever for your child. According to the Center on the Developing Child, toxic stress at an early age is likely to negatively impact developing brain architecture.
Dance classes are offered for children as young as three years old but you can begin dancing with your child as soon as they can walk.
Painting enhances cognitive development by promoting hand-eye coordination and creativity. Allow your child to tap into the fun of finger painting as soon as they can sit up and consider handing them a paintbrush as soon as you know they can handle the materials safely.
Putting on Plays
Creating, organizing, and performing a play requires creativity, cooperation, and teamwork. When your child engages in this activity, they’ll also hone in on organizational skills and patience. According to child development experts, your child is likely to develop advanced characters and a complicated plot for a play when they’re around four years old.
Allowing your child to play pretend is a great way to encourage creativity and independence. The same child development experts conclude that your child is likely to begin playing pretend at the age of two and will continue to develop these skills and enjoy this type of play for a few more years.
Puppeteering is another fun way to let your child take control of an organizational activity. It promotes creativity and communication and doesn’t require an investment in materials on your part.
Use shadows, socks, and other household items to pique your child’s interest. Toy manufacturers recommend getting your child started with finger puppets when they’re around two to three years old.
Not only is cooking a great life-skill to possess, it also improves your child’s problem-solving skills and helps them exercise their creativity. Allow your child to help you in the kitchen when you think they’re mature enough to stay safe and make responsible decisions.
My family is gluten free, so we’re very familiar with allergen-free baking. That makes it possible for your children to make treats and even whole meals that everyone can enjoy.
Some popular options for teaching children to bake are basic treats that nearly everyone loves, like brownies and cookies. Why not start with some simple allergy-friendly recipes like gluten free cookies and gluten free brownies, so all of their friends can enjoy them, too? After they master the basics, they may have fun trying to prepare a healthy gluten free chicken dinner for the whole family. With the best gluten free vanilla cake for dessert, of course.
Most experts recommend letting your child assist you with preparing meals when they’re around five years old. They can begin making their own food or improvising with different recipes when they’re around 12 years old, but they should still be supervised in the kitchen at all times.
Hiking allows children to get in touch with nature and promotes motor development. Your child will become more familiar with their environment, navigation, and preparation when you take them on a hike. If you have the proper gear and start with a short and easy trail, you can take your child hiking at any age.
Your child can begin to tackle simple puzzles at any age and more advanced puzzles with more complicated pieces as they get older. Putting together puzzles enhances their pattern recognition abilities and promotes problem-solving. With more pieces, they’re also tasked with applying organizational and strategic skills, which supports cognitive development.
Playing Board Games
Board games promote strategic thinking, problem-solving, and coping with emotions, which contribute to cognitive development. Your child may begin playing simple board games as young as two years old and more strategic games at around three years of age.
Riddles are a fun way to engage with your child and help them develop their problem-solving and language comprehension skills. When you expose your child to rhymes, puns, and other language games, they learn more about how to use and manipulate their language. Your child may be interested in riddles as early as five years old but could begin developing their own verbal games at six or seven.
Building a Fort
Your child can experience independence and flex their creativity and problem-solving skills when building a fort. They’ll also get experience with resourcefulness by using the materials around them to create the type of fort they envision.
Your child may begin building forts when they’re around four years old. You may find them experimenting with blankets, pillows, and furniture to create worlds of their own.
Getting your child involved in decorating their own room or helping you decorate for a party promotes independence and creativity. When you give your child choices between a few different decoration options, they feel more involved in the process. As soon as they’re old enough to speak, walk, and make simple decisions, you can start asking for your child’s help with decorating.
Allowing your child to play dress-up enhances their creativity and independence. When they dress in different clothes and pretend to be other people, they’ll also have the opportunity to learn and practice empathy while learning more about themselves.
Your child may become interested in playing dress-up when they’re around three years old. Be prepared for this stage with plenty of interesting clothes and accessories to let their imagination take off. We had a “dress-up” box of pretend clothing, including old Halloween costumes, until my youngest was around 9 or 10 years old!
Listening/Watching Media in Other Languages
When your child watches movies or listens to music in other languages, they can sharpen their listening and critical thinking skills. This activity also helps them to understand the world around them more deeply and they’re more likely to be bilingual when they get older. Bilingual people are proven to experience more accurate sensory processing and faster learning processes.
It’s best to expose your child to other languages through foreign media when they’re seven to 11 years old. Around this age, it’s easier for them to make connections with words and focus on identification.
There are many simple activities you can engage in with your child to support their cognitive development. By exposing your child to these fun and thoughtful experiences, they’ll develop unforgettable childhood memories with you while learning and growing.