Faster, Bet­ter, Sharper

There’s a lot you can do to boost your kids’ learn­ing, fo­cus and mem­ory. Take th­ese easy tips for chil­dren of dif­fer­ent ages.

Simply Her (Singapore) - - Kids - BY SASHA GON­ZA­LES

• Bond With Them

Don’t un­der­es­ti­mate how im­por­tant par­ent-child bond­ing – lots of laugh­ter, phys­i­cal con­tact and com­mu­ni­ca­tion – is when it comes to help­ing your kid be­come a bet­ter learner, says child psy­chol­o­gist Then­moliee Joe, who set up the Kids Test­ing & Dys­lexia Cen­tre. Bond­ing helps nur­ture a child’s emo­tional in­tel­li­gence (EQ), which plays a big role in his over­all be­hav­iour.

If your kid has a high EQ, he can iden­tify and man­age his feel­ings well, recog­nise oth­ers’ feel­ings and fig­ure out how to re­spond to them. High-EQ kids also make bet­ter de­ci­sions, are bet­ter prob­lem solvers, and per­se­vere in the face of dif­fi­culty.

• Tune In To Mu­sic

Then­moliee rec­om­mends play­ing clas­si­cal or in­stru­men­tal mu­sic in the back­ground while your child is study­ing – this will help sharpen his think­ing skills and con­cen­tra­tion. Avoid mu­sic with lyrics as it is over­stim­u­lat­ing and can be dis­tract­ing.

Dis­so­nant mu­sic, which has a dis­cor­dant com­bi­na­tion of sounds, is thought to help your child gen­er­ate new ideas, but Then­moliee says kids should be ex­posed to it only in the right con­text – for ex­am­ple, dur­ing a speech and drama class. Such mu­sic can trig­ger the amyg­dala, the brain’s fear cen­tre, and cre­ate anx­i­ety in chil­dren un­der seven. “When young kids de­velop anx­i­ety, they may ex­pe­ri­ence night­mares or suf­fer from bed-wet­ting, so I don’t rec­om­mend play­ing dis­so­nant mu­sic at home,” she says.

• Get Them Mov­ing

Phys­i­cal ac­tiv­i­ties are great for build­ing up your lit­tle one’s strength and mo­tor skills. They can also de­velop the part of his brain that im­proves co­or­di­na­tion, which in turn, helps hone his think­ing skills, says Then­moliee.

• Whole­grains And Veg­gies For Con­cen­tra­tion

Oats, un­pro­cessed whole­grain breads, brown rice and quinoa can im­prove your child’s men­tal alert­ness and con­cen­tra­tion, says Susie Rucker, a nutritional ther­a­pist at Body With Soul. Th­ese foods are packed with nu­tri­ents that sup­port ner­vous func­tion.

Kai lan, spinach, bak choy, kale, and other fresh, green leafy veg­eta­bles are rich in mag­ne­sium, a min­eral that aids con­cen­tra­tion, adds Susie. Serve th­ese veg­gies in a stir-fry with meat or tofu. If your child is a fussy eater, chop up the greens and blend them into soups or sauces. Give him at least one por­tion a day.

• Power Up With Milk

Nu­tri­tion is an im­por­tant part of brain de­vel­op­ment dur­ing your child’s for­ma­tive years. And for­ti­fied milk makes an ex­cel­lent sup­ple­ment to an al­ready healthy diet.

Sim­i­lac Gain IQ Kid with In­tel­lipro ($16.90 for 400g) is per­fect for kids aged three to six years. The for­mula’s In­telli-pro is a combo of lutein and DHA that helps with eye and brain de­vel­op­ment. It also con­tains choline, which supports men­tal func­tion­ing, and tau­rine, for men­tal and phys­i­cal de­vel­op­ment.

• Good Fats For A Healthy Brain

Susie says that healthy fats – omega-3 fatty acids – can boost your child’s brain func­tion, mood and con­cen­tra­tion. The best sources in­clude fish such as salmon, trout, sar­dines and mack­erel. Three serv­ings a week are ideal for reap­ing the ben­e­fits.

• Send Them To School

At­tend­ing kinder­garten and en­rich­ment classes is im­por­tant for four-, five- and six-year-olds, says Then­moliee. It im­proves their so­cial skills and ex­poses them to a range of sit­u­a­tions and in­for­ma­tion. Young chil­dren need op­por­tu­ni­ties to learn how the world around them works, en­gage their imag­i­na­tion, and de­velop their ab­stract think­ing skills.

• Chal­lenge Them With Mazes

If you’d like to boost your child’s mem­ory and strengthen his prob­lem-solv­ing skills, Then­moliee sug­gests giv­ing him maze ac­tiv­ity work­sheets. Th­ese can en­hance the way in­for­ma­tion is trans­mit­ted in his brain, a process known as neu­ral path­way map­ping.

“With th­ese learn­ing tools, your child will no­tice all the small de­tails as well as the big pic­ture,” she points out. “This helps with his con­cen­tra­tion, mem­ory, and cog­ni­tive thought pro­cesses.”

• Let Them Play

Then­moliee says that ed­u­ca­tional games can de­velop your child’s cog­ni­tion, log­i­cal think­ing and rea­son­ing skills. Kids aged five and above will ben­e­fit from sim­ple sudoku, pic­ture puzzles and board games like check­ers, Cluedo, chess and bingo. Role-play­ing games such as masak-masak and cop­sand-rob­bers can also de­velop your child’s imag­i­na­tion and help him think out­side the box.

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