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.
• 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.