Have you ever buy the DVD or software and sign up for the brain training class that claims to do wonders to the kid’s intelligence? While some of these products may have their merits and produce effects to a certain extend, there are simpler things we can do as parents that help nurture our kids intelligence and promote achievement in the long run.
Scientist have long discovered that exercise for mice increased blood and oxygen flow to the brain boosts levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a substance essential for the growth of brain cells. Exercise also increase the level levels of norepinephrine and endorphins, reducing stress and improving mood. A growing body of evidence show that the effect also applies to human.
A group of kids (aged 7-9 years) in an after-school exercise program were divided into two groups. One group of kids get 70 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity daily. The results show that the kids who are active showed improvements solving tasks that needs executive control and working memory* Kids in a control group did not.
Aerobic exercise don’t have to be 30-60 minutes in the gym or dance or other sports class, unless that’s really what they want to do. Nature walks, riding on a bike, roller balding and even playing catching or hide-and-seek works.
Watch what the kids eat
According to UK researchers, children who eat more chips, crisps, biscuits and pizza before three years old have lower IQ points. Compared to their peers who are given given healthier diets with fruit, vegetables and home-cooked food, the difference could be as much as five IQ points.
On the other hand, food high in antioxidants, choline , omega-3 fatty acids, and complex carbohydrates are all particularly helpful in boosting brain health. Antioxidants (major antioxidant vitamins are beta-carotene, vitamin C, and vitamin E) can be found in fruits and vegetables – especially those with purple, blue, red, orange, and yellow hues. Choline is available food such as eggs, spinach and cauliflower. For Omega-3 fatty acids, eat plenty of fish (anchovies, salmon and mackerel).
Let them Play
Specifically, free play, pretend play and playing with blocks. Several studies show that school children pay more attention to school work after recess–an unstructured break when kids play freely.** Other studies show that pretend play, especially when children pretend together, help enhance the child’s language skills.
Construction toys is another favorite with people supporting early childhood play since they help with motor skills and hand-eye coordination, creative, divergent thinking, social skills, and language skills.
Do Not tell them they are Smart
This is kind of contradictory to conventional wisdom? However, studies have indicated that praising kids by telling them they are smart may cause them to believe that intelligence is a fix trait and hence less likely to succeed in school. Instead, praise children for their effort and hard work and try to be more specific. e.g In stead of saying “That’s great picture,” say, “Look at that how beautifully you colored the flower, you even add the butterflies!
**Pelligrini and Holmes 2006