As a parent, you want good things for your child. Whether you’ve enrolled your child in daycare, activity camps in their field of interest, a Montessori school, or are home schooling, learning matters to you. And you know how much the brain grows and develops during the first few years of life. As your child enters school age, you still want to encourage learning and growth. But how can you ensure the information sticks in their brains… and still have fun with your kiddo?
Charlie Peacock in “Experience” sings, “We can only possess what we experience/Truth, to be understood, must be lived.” This holds true for learning in children.
Hearing lectures and rote memorization may occasionally be necessary to learning, but in order to reinforce the learning and make it stick, make it real. Turn learning into experiencing.
- If your child loves watching cooking shows (or just eating pie!) take the interest and bake something together. You’ve just incorporated reading, math and science. As an added bonus, you’ve demonstrated the importance of following directions (in order) and patience.
- Having beautiful weather? Dig in the dirt, take a walk or run, explore a new park. As you go, count dogs or collect leaves, study bugs or photograph unique plants. If your child is learning about simple machines, leverage or the human body, discuss the act of riding a bike, both from the bike and body!
- Use blocks or clean recyclables like toilet paper rolls and empty food storage containers to build structures. Make a fort your child is studying in history or discuss the pros and cons of building up versus out. What happens when gravity takes over on a tall structure with a small base? (If it’s in my house, a very loud, fun mess.)
You don’t have to be a genius or educator to incorporate fun ways to experience what your child is learning. Ask them about their day, what they’ve learned, and even seek their input on how to apply it practically. (If you don’t understand what they’re learning, so much the better! A sneaky way to reinforce what they’ve learned is to have your student turn around and teach it!)
Another wonderful way to help the brain retain new information is to give it a break. Allowing the brain time to process new data helps convert it from short-term to long-term memory. And we all know most children have the attention span of a gnat. So, providing short, defined periods of studying or work, knowing a break is coming, is a positive way to encourage persistence. Brain breaks can reduce frustration with homework, re-energize, re-focus and relax your child. This can make a profound difference in their study habits, cooperation and lifelong relationship to learning.
Pre-plan the breaks so you don’t get into the vicious, “I don’t know what to do!” cycle. Set the ground rules and expectations. This could be, “Study for 20 minutes, then we’ll take a five-minute break.” Or, “After one sheet of homework / three pages of reading, you can play a game. Then you’ll need to finish the second sheet.”
Another key is to make sure however long the work session is, the break happens before frustration and fatigue set in.
Brain break ideas include:
Physical Brain Breaks
- Run around the yard
- Dance party!
- Jumping jacks
- Bear crawl race
- Crab tag (everyone crawls like a crab, but playing a game of tag)
Mental Brain Breaks
- Yoga stretches
- Playing with a puzzle
- Reading a book
- Sitting quietly
Sensory Brain Breaks
- Play-doh or silly putty
- Fidget spinner
- Chewing gum
An online search of “brain breaks” or “brain break games” may give you other ideas to keep brain breaks fresh and interesting. Brain breaks not only reduce frustration in your child, but give the brain opportunity to filter and solidify the learning.
Helping the Brain Function
Incorporating options to help maximize your child’s brain functionality and learning capability may include providing them with a quality supplement to meet nutritional needs. This helps keep the body and brain well-nourished and focused. Look for Children’s Optimal Brain and Body and feel free to reach out to BIPRI for ideas on helping your child learn. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more.