Kids Need Brain Exercise

In the same way that many people ask the question whether a tomato is a fruit or a vegetable, people ask the same about the brain, as to whether it's a muscle or an organ. The answer is, of course, that the brain is an organ. The fact that the question exists is because many people confuse form over function. They see that the brain can be trained and in doing so, is much like a muscle in many ways. It's often said that you can exercise your brain to improve its functionality.

An example of this is to imagine that you did some push ups everyday for 2 weeks. Soon you would start to see some changes appearing in the muscles of your arms. This would be in the form of increased definition and muscle tone. Obviously, when it comes to exercising the brain, there is only so much room in the skull. So it's not going to get any bigger. But nevertheless, inwardly, there will be changes that can be equally noticeable.

You can see this particularly in children and with older people. If you were to put aside an hour each day and spend it doing crossword puzzles, jigsaw puzzles, math functions and any other sort of complex brain work, you would see a remarkable improvement in brain function. Of these results, probably the most noticeable will be the following:

Better problem-solving skills
Improvement in memory (critical thinking)
Faster reaction time in tackling a problem
Better concentration

If we're talking about children, then there's an added benefit that you are spending time together working on these exercises. There is a great possibility for increased bonding and intimacy. This in turn leads to a feeling of security and confidence in the kids, and will help them move forwards as they mature. Any time spent during regular brain exercises will reap rewards for both the parents and the children.

We've put together a list of some exercises that might prove useful especially for kids.

Optical Illusions

Is it a mouse or is it a man? If you go online you can find literally thousands of resources which will allow you to print out some of the best known optical illusions. Share these with your kids and ask them what they see? Then you can go even further and try to decipher whether age or right or left/right handedness has any effect on their ability to perceive the hidden images. Optical illusions are great fun in themselves and you'll all have a fantastic time learning how to look at the world from a different perspective.

Spot the Difference

This is a classic brain teaser game for kids of all ages. Once again, hit up the internet and you'll find a ton of resources offering spot the difference games. We suggest you print them out and distribute them to the kids. Another way to play the game is to encourage the kids to actually draw two pictures, but with one having differences. This can be in the living room or their bedroom. Somewhere familiar. Not only will this improve spatial awareness and creative abilities, but also encourages the idea that we can entertain ourselves without the necessity of the internet or portable devices.

Chain Chain Chain…Chain of SOUND!

This is a great sound-chain game. The idea here is that each person in the room creates their own train sound. It could be a whistle or a clap or the sound of brakes or of steam. Then one person starts with their sound and the next person makes the same sound whilst adding their own and so on. Once it's done a round of a few kids, the chain could sound like a stump, snap, clap, and whistle. Just keep it going until someone breaks the chain. This is a simple but effective memory game, as it relies on concentration.

Heads, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes

This is another classic game from yesteryear that still performs as well as ever. The great thing about this game is that it exercises both the mind and the body. It's a great platform to start a discussion about looking after both mental and physical well-being. Alos, it's a great way of teaching children about the importance of diet and exercise. If you're an adult playing with the kids, then you're certainly going to benefit from all the stretching!

Classic Alphabet Game

There are as many alphabet games out there as you can think up with your fertile imagination. Whether it's naming cities beginning with the letter “A” and then with the letter “B” and so on, or asking for 6 items beginning with different letters. Again, you can have an individual player name everything. Or make rounds whereby each player says one contribution. Back before the days of the tablet and portable phone, games like this were a staple for long car journeys. We strongly suggest that you bring them back.

Scavenger Hunt

All kids of yesteryear enjoyed a scavenger hunt, though we fear that many children today have no idea what that is. Essentially, the players fulfill requests to find certain objects within a given location. For example, you may ask them to bring back a sedimentary rock. Or a particular type of seashell if you're on the beach. You can then up the ante by saying that they have to bring back a particular object and then explain about it. Or sing a rap song. Again, the sky's the limit here, and if you're a parent organising such a thing, then try and keep the creative aspect at the forefront.

Classic Games

We’re not sure, in today's age of the internet and electronic gadgetry, how many families sit down and play classic board games such as Monopoly or Clue. It's interesting to know that these games are still for sale in nearly all toy shops, which means that parents are still buying them. These classic games are “classics” for a very good reason. Not only are they entertaining with their gameplay, but they also teach kids some very important life lessons. They will have to learn how to strategize, learn quick thinking, mathematical skills, and in one of the most important life lessons, learn how to win and lose gracefully. You can also create some family-oriented prizes to go with these games. The winner of the Friday night Monopoly game gets to choose the type of pizza for dinner. Or the winner of the Saturday afternoon Uno game can select the movie the whole family or watch later on that evening.