The brain can be likened to a well-coordinated orchestra, performing different functions, all in perfect timing. So how can we make sure that our child’s brain plays to its full potential?
Left-Brain, Right-Brain – or Whole Brain?
Many of us are aware of the popularized Brain Dominance Theory. Logical and analytical individuals are touted as being left-brained, whilst artsy, imaginative individuals are said to be right-brain oriented. Balance out the ‘weaker’ side, or focus on the ‘correct’ side at a certain age range and voila! You’re on your way to becoming a child prodigy.
But hold your horses: recent research has indicated that the brain is much more complex than what is often portrayed in popular culture. You don’t only use one side of your brain at a time. Yes, the two sides function differently, but they have to complement and work together in a web of intimate connections.
Instead of limiting ourselves to a traditional right vs left brained thinking, modern parents are increasingly looking towards harnessing their child’s whole brain power.
Here are some practical tips for giving your child that whole brain, healthy and holistic growth:
1. Go for nutritious brain food
“Brain food” helps with healthy brain development by improving function, memory and concentration. There are a whole range of superfoods that your child is likely to enjoy, such as:
- Peanut butter
- Whole grains
Incorporate these ingredients into your own recipes, or choose from the many kid-friendly, brain-healthy recipes available online.
2. Allow for creative and expressive outlets
As children develop, their brain grows and changes, which in turn affects their thinking behavior, and emotions. Holistic brain health certainly includes supporting balanced emotions. Help your child navigate their growing pains by providing them with the tools needed for creative expression. Writing is an excellent outlet, doubling up as a great exercise to get those creative juices flowing!
Enrichment sessions such as the Young Writers’ Series offered by The Learning Lab Asia can help equip your child with literacy and creative writing skills to develop their creative thinking processes. With their focus on holistic learning, highly trained teachers and small class sizes, children are able to explore a wide range of literary techniques through interactive and engaging lessons.
3. Help develop decision making and problem-solving skills
In the New York Times’ best-selling book, “The Whole Brain Child”, parents are encouraged to nurture sound problem solving skills in their children, to grow them as confident decision-makers in life. Part of the strategy for whole brain development involves engaging the ‘upstairs brain‘ (the thinking portion) for problem-solving.
The Learning Lab Asia is also offering a Young Problem Solvers’ Series, which is a math-based programme that encourages critical thinking and problem-solving skills with the Model Method. From tackling equations, to deciphering complex word problems, this innovative programme will certainly diversify your child’s learning experience.
4. Support healthy sleep patterns
Adequate, quality sleep is known to lead to improved overall brain health, improving attention, behaviour, learning and memory. Here are some simple ways to make sure your kids catch those precious ZZZ’s!
- Establish regular sleep and wake times
- Ensure appropriate hours of sleep for their age
- Turn off electronic stimulants 1 hours before bedtime
- Avoid heavy meals before bed time
- Get plenty of natural light during the day
5. Engage in simple activities that exercise the brain
Science has shown that we can change our brain wiring and improve our executive functions. Strengthen this area for better academics and relationships, as well as an improved ability to cope with life’s daily challenges.
For a fun brain boost, try these simple activities that help to improve cognitive development. Do remember as well, repetition will solidify the benefits!
- Deep breathing
Deep breathing increases the supply of oxygen to your brain and stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, promoting a state of calmness. Try the child-friendly ‘elevator breathing‘ technique. Your kids will be required to mindfully visualise, concentrate on their breath, and focus intently on the instructions given.
- Turn up the music
Don’t worry – you don’t need to force your kids to pick up an instrument if that really isn’t their cup of tea! Studies in neuroscience show that singing or just listening to music is enough to stimulate the brain. This brain workout will lead to an improved brain structure with the formation of new neural connections. Time to encourage the (hopefully not) off-tune warbles during shower time!
- Board games
Bond over board games with the family while reaping its brain boosting benefits. Games like Monopoly, chess and card games (such as UNO, Go Fish, Speed) teach problem-solving, planning, and cooperation. It also teaches the kids how to handle frustrations and good sportsmanship. Other classic games such as Jenga and Operation improve attention, concentration, and coordination. Phew…that’s a lot of skills being developed just by having fun!
- Get moving
Parenting resources and medical practitioners have reiterated over and over again the impact of an early active lifestyle on physical health. Exercise for children is important for other reasons too. It stimulates brain growth and boosts a child’s executive function skills, enhancing focus, working memory performance, and the ability to plan. Preteens are recommended to get at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise a day. Here are some ideas on how to encourage them to get off that couch!
An age-old cognitive booster. Get your hands on some jigsaws, crossword puzzles or a classic Rubik’s cube to test your kids’ mental mettle!
- Plan and enjoy events together
Even everyday routines, such as a trip to the grocery store, can be excellent opportunities for learning. Get your child to write down a shopping list, visit the store together and make a meal thereafter with their help. Learning to plan ahead, use money, and measure ingredients are all activities that help to train the brain.
We hope these tips have given you much (brain) food for thought, #makchicmumtribe!
This article is powered by The Learning Lab Asia.
Looking for ways to support your child’s brain development? Following over 20 years of experience as a leading provider of academic enrichment and tuition services in Singapore, The Learning Lab Asia now offers holistic enrichment programmes in Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia to support your child’s academic needs.
The Learning Lab Asia Enrichment Programmes, which include the Young Writers’ Series (for 8 to 12-year-olds) and Young Problem Solver’s Series (for 8 to 10-year-olds) will be returning soon. Find out more at The Learning Lab Asia.