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7 Activities to Improve your Child’s Development

7 Activities to Improve your Child’s Development

We all love to watch our children develop and grow. We love teaching them, playing with them, and simply observing how innocent minds process information. However, every parent wants to make sure that their children develop at a normal pace, so we do minor checkups concerning their intelligence, speaking skills, motor skills, etc. Since a child can’t tell if something isn’t right, parents are constantly on the lookout and they want to make sure that they have a healthy and intelligent kid.

Of course, there are various types of intelligence — linguistic, kinaesthetic, logical, spatial, musical, interpersonal, and intrapersonal. These types of intelligence are in a state of equilibrium, so when someone lacks something, they usually makes up for in other aspects. So, you can have an eloquent kid who has an incredible singing talent, but who has difficulties with calculating.

However, this doesn’t mean that your kid is doomed to be a bad mathematician; it only means that math will require more hard work, and the same goes for any other skill your child naturally lacks. So, here are a few activities that will help your kid develop properly and that are really fun at the same time.

1. Lego blocks

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    Lego blocks have been around for generations, and children of all ages love to play with them. However, Legos are so much more than a mere toy, they can help develop some useful skills. For example, Lego blocks come with instructions, so kids can practice how to read and how to follow instructions.

    Another benefit is calculation, since you need a particular number of pieces to build something, therefore math is involved to some degree as well. Also, Legos are very good for promoting creativity and spatial intelligence. If possible, get your kids hooked on playing with Lego blocks!

    2. Minecraft

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      Minecraft is like a more complex and advanced version of Legos. It’s one of the most popular video games and people of all ages are very enthusiastic about it. In Minecraft, you can build, create, re-shape, and disassemble things. But, you also need to find resources, gather materials, and strategize how to increase your base.

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      Much like playing with Legos, Minecraft promotes the development of the same skills but on a more advanced level. Also, your kid is likely to continue playing the game as they grow older, exploring various other features the game has to offer. Minecraft can even help your kid master coding, which is an incredibly useful skill to have in the 21st century.

      3. Treasure Hunting

      This is a really fun parent-child activity, and it can also benefit your child to a great extent. Of course, it may take a lot of time for you to set it up, but the end result is certainly worth it. Basically, you buy something for your kid and hide it. In order for the object to be found, the child must solve a series of puzzles and riddles.

      Clearly, this is an activity that is a bit more advanced, but it incites critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Alternatively, you can play scavenger hunts if your child is a bit younger. You can do this at the supermarket or at home, and it is also really simple. Tell your kid to find all the objects that are round-shaped or that are purple in color, but make sure you provide an example of the item he or she should be looking for.

      Once you see everything your child has brought, you can see whether he or she recognizes shapes and objects regularly, and test his or her color perception.

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      4. Puzzles

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        Puzzles are awesome; all you need to remember is to gradually increase their difficulty. A kid can probably do any small box with 50-70 puzzle pieces on their own, but with larger ones, it’s good to help or to get a pair of children to work together. Puzzles are great for pattern and shape recognition, memory boosting, and for teaching collaboration. Additionally, you will end up with a beautiful picture that you can frame and hang on the wall afterwards.

        5. Coloring books

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          Coloring books are another plaything that kids love and that help their growth. They are great, especially for kids who can’t read yet. Coloring books help children develop their artistic side, and they also help them develop some useful motor skills that will come in handy when children are learning to write, because coloring books require a firm hand grip and precision. Moreover, coloring books are really soothing and relaxing, so it’s a good idea to allow your child to relax with one after a stressful activity.

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          6. Playing with marbles

          Marbles are like a miniature version of a pool table, since a child needs precision and visualization in order to be successful at it. It’s a bit of an old-fashioned game, but people who were kids during the 80s and 90s are very familiar with the concept. You need to launch a small marble from your hand and hit the other marble strong enough to expel it from the circle.

          7. Reading and singing

          It’s good to have some books for kids that you can read with your children and teach them how to read as well. It’s a skill they will definitely need, and you can start as soon as they are 4 years old. The problem is that not all kids find reading interesting, but with a colorful book, it might just work. You can also make some flashcards with pictures before you move on to the texts. You can also teach your kids some songs and invite them to sing together. This way, you test memory, acoustic intelligence, and word recognition.

          Remember, the most important skills are also known as the four C’s of the 21st century: creativity, collaboration, communication, and critical thinking. All of the activities mentioned here will influence those skills, so try to implement them during your child’s development.

          Featured photo credit: Pixabay via pixabay.com

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          Djordje Todorovic

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          Published on May 7, 2021

          20 Energizing Brain Breaks For Kids

          20 Energizing Brain Breaks For Kids

          From coaching martial arts to children as young as four years old, I very quickly came to the understanding that if I wanted to help kids progress their skills, I needed to find a way to help them focus more consistently in my class.

          There are two key ways I found when it came to improving my students’ level of focus:

          1. Make what we’re doing more interesting. Nothing is off the table here—from having ninja clowns on the rampage in a lesson to including popular games with a martial arts theme, tapping into the student’s love of fun to help them focus.
          2. Introduce brain breaks.

          Brain breaks are small mental breaks that help the kids stay more focused. Think of the brain as a fuel gauge that shows the information you can consciously hold in your mind at any given moment. When the kids are focused and working hard on their tasks, the meter is usually full. They can easily concentrate and pass experiences into their long-term memory.

          But when the needle starts to drop, you may observe that your kids are feeling anxious or looking restless. New information, experiences, and knowledge are not getting processed from the staging area or working memory into the long-term memory.[1]

          It’s here that brain breaks make the most difference, as they allow us to “top-up the tank” or reset the gauge so that we can continue to learn and focus and at a higher level.

          If you’ve been home tutoring, you’ll appreciate that brain breaks can help kids in many ways. They can reduce stress and frustration. Think of those times when you’re helping your kids solve a difficult problem. It’s taxing for you both and when compounded with the energy loss after a day at school or watching TV. The stress effect can be compounded, and it’s here that brain breaks can be a lifesaver.[2]

          The following is a selection of brain break ideas for kids. You’ll see that some are physical activities while others are more relaxing. It’s always great to test them out to see which ones connect the best with your children.

          It’s okay to repeat the same brain breaks. Having a clear name and mission to a break can help keep your child excited, knowing that they’ll have the opportunity to take part in a future round of the activity.

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          Active Brain Breaks

          Here are some active brain breaks for kids that you can try out.

          1. Swapsies

          Have the participants stand behind a chair. Call out a character trait, like “everyone with brown eyes.” You then swap places with someone else who has the same characteristic. If you have nothing that matches, you stay put!

          Examples: “Everyone with trainers on.” “Everyone who is left-handed.” “Everyone who is wearing yellow.”

          2. Dance Party

          Put five or six different types of songs on Spotify, including a classic like “baby shark or the hamster dance.” Dim the lights if possible and have the kids dance to the tunes. Then, change the tunes and change the dance style. It’s silly and fun.

          3. Freeze Dance

          Similar to Dance Party except that when the music stops, students have to stay perfectly still until the music restarts. You can make this even more fun by trying to make the students smile. If they smile, they are out and have to sit down.

          4. Keep It Up

          Students must keep a balloon from touching the floor. You can add multiple balloons. You can make it more competitive by having different balloons of two different colors and split people into teams. Whoever keeps the balloons up the longest or the team with the most balloons in the air with a timer of 60 seconds wins.

          5. Simon Says

          This brain break for kids is an old favorite. You can also mix it up with martial arts moves, Fortnite dances, superhero moves, etc.

          6. Animal Movement

          Move like different animals. It’s fun for younger children. We use Flamingo where you stand on one leg, crawl like a bear, stand like a meerkat, run like a cheetah, and walk like a penguin.

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          7. Find It Fast

          “Find It Fast” is a scavenger hunt variation. Call an item out in the room and kids have to stand by it. For example, find a clock, find something with a face, find something smelly, find some money, find a phone, etc.

          8. The Frog

          Physical Challenges can be excellent fun. We have one in the martial arts class called “The Frog” where you squat like a frog, then lean forward so your head and feet are off the floor. These are all old yoga poses, so have a look through a booklet or website for some safe ideas. Other examples are grabbing your nose with your left hand and touching your knee with your right elbow.

          9. Pizza Delivery Time

          Give the students paper plates and tell them to hold the plates above their head on a flat hand. They then run around the room and try to keep the plate in their hand. You can make it more challenging by having other students try to knock others’ plates off. There’s usually a 3-star jump penalty if your plate touches the floor.

          10. Limbo

          We use martial arts belts and the students take turns going underneath the belts. Fun music creates an awesome atmosphere here.

          11. Human Knot

          Split the group of people and have everyone link hands under and over. That’s making knots between everyone in the group. Have the other students try to untangle them and return everyone back into a circle.

          12. Feather Balance

          This brain break for kids works well with gentle music, and you can use a balloon or a straw if you don’t have a feather handy.

          13. Stack them high

          The students should have plastic cups and paper squares. The goal is to make a tower as high as possible, or it could be to make a triangle or even a pyramid.

          Relaxing Brain Breaks

          We talked about brain breaks for kids that are being used to energize the students. But they can also be used to calm and relax them. We’re more familiar with the term mindfulness, but it’s the same idea. These are brain breaks for kids that reduce stress and anxiety.

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          14. Meditation

          Meditation

          is a popular way to reduce anxiety. There are lots of great examples already pre-recorded on YouTube that you can follow along with. Below is a useful classroom meditation example.

          15. Kaleidoscope

          Kaleidoscopes are fun ways to relax. They are mesmerizing and like a peaceful vortex that sucks you into them. Below is a great example of a visual online one you can use.

          16. Reading/Listening to a Story

          When I surveyed the members of our martial arts club about how their kids employ brain breaks at home, there was a clear winner among the families—listening to a story or reading a story. The feedback was that the process of daydreaming a little helps the kids to recharge. But it goes without saying that the story needs to be engaging.

          17. Doodling

          My personal favorite way to brain break as a kid was to doodle. Doodling gives your child a few minutes to draw anything they want. It can be calming for them, and it’s a lot more fun if you have different types of pens or crayons available to use. Add some soft music, and you have a simple way to take some time to relax.

          18. Coloring Sheets

          Coloring sheets are another way to relax the mind. There’s lots of great coloring in pads available, but here are some links to public resources shared on the internet that are great examples.

          19. Deep Breathing

          Deep breathing

          is an epic way to help your child slow down. It is a quick way to relieve anxiety so that they feel more ready for the next task ahead.

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          Try this: put your hands on your tummy, breathe in through the nose, and feel your belly expand like a balloon. Hold it here, then slowly breathe out through the mouth while feeling your stomach get smaller. Repeat this 10 times. Use the following counts: breath in for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, and breath out for 4 seconds.

          20. Going Outside

          Go outside was the second most popular response from our parent’s survey about brain breaks for kids at home. Fresh air always feels nice. You can combine this with a treasure hunt, looking for different colored cars, types of birds, or even types of trees, if you’re familiar with these.

          My personal favorite is using a mushroom spotting app on our phones and finding a mushroom or toadstool, then using the app to identify its name. This is surprisingly engaging for children. But a few safety rules about not touching them is important. It gives kids a change of scenery and helps revitalize the senses, providing a welcome break from their homework.

          How Often Should You Introduce Brain Breaks?

          The key to brain breaks is their timing. If you can introduce them before you notice that your kids are entering deep fatigue or their loss of focus has set in. You’ll find a great balance between breaks and effort.

          I’ve observed from my martial arts coaching that younger students have a smaller amount of working memory than older kids. My formula is for five minutes of technical training, we provide five minutes of brain breaks for students under seven years old. Plus, we coach to 15 minutes of training to five minutes of brain breaks for children under 12 years.

          Final Thoughts

          Implementing calming brain breaks for kids is a really efficient way of introducing brain breaks. You have a quick way to allow your students to learn about regulating themselves. Balancing their mind and energy is a useful skill, and you can take this with you everywhere you go.

          Our martial arts center revolutionized our approach to coaching by using brain breaks for kids. We found that although we were teaching less technical skills, there was now consistent progress from the students. Plus, everyone was less anxious, happier, and are having more fun. This is a win overall.

          If you’ve been having challenges with your kids focusing at home, maybe try a mixture of the calming and active breaks to see which types work best for your kids.

          Featured photo credit: Robert Collins via unsplash.com

          Reference

          [1] SimplyPsychology: Working Memory Model
          [2] BrainFacts.org: Kids Need Brain Breaks — And So Do Adults

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