Category Archives: Cognitive

My toddler was born a scientist! Ideas for fostering discovery at home

If you’ve ever watched a young girl engaging with her surroundings spontaneously, you’ve noticed that young children approach daily life activities and objects with the curiosity of a postdoctoral scientist.

Be it in the kitchen or in the playground, they are intuitively observing avidly, testing ideas, asking creative questions and inventing. This is how children boost their cognitive development moving from infancy and into toddlerhood.

What can you do to foster your toddler’s natural inclination towards discovery? Here we propose some easy and fun activities that you can do to encourage her in the quest of exploring the world she is growing in:

• Classify. Sort out day-to-day objects around the house in categories. For example, fruits with edible skins vs those that have to be peeled.
• Explore magnetic forces with a fridge magnet. What is attracted by a magnet and what isn’t?
• Encountering her shadow. You can interact with a shadow in many ways to see what happens, like trying to step on it, noticing its size and shape, and its relationship to the sun or to light.
• Do a night-time puppet-show using your hands to cast shadows.
• Explore motion and gravity. What rolls like a wheel? You can use soda bottles, rocks, apples, books, leaves, etc. Continue reading

Creating a positive learning environment at home

 

Babies’ brains are like sponges – they are constantly absorbing, forming new ideas from stimuli in their environment. That’s how they learn. According to a recent study from NYU, there are a few things you can do to create a strong learning environment at home.

The study followed a group of children from birth through 5th grade, tracking the influence of early home learning environments on later cognitive skills. Researchers found that the learning environment at home plays a powerful role in shaping kids’ cognitive and linguistic abilities. They found that a strong learning environment has three main features: quality parent-child interactions, the availability of learning materials, and children’s participation in learning activities. Let’s break them down.

Quality interactions: Spend quality time with your little one every day. Sit and play on the floor, talk to him or her – engage! When you’re playing together, let him or her lead and then join in on whatever catches his or her attention. Point to objects he or she is watching and name them. Respond to your little one’s cues promptly – like identifying if he or she is hungry or in need of a diaper change. It’s important that your baby feels secure so that he or she is willing to explore his or her environment. Continue reading

Exactly how big a deal is drawing?

With the sudden boom on computers, tablets, and phones as convenient playtime devices, it seems we’ve lost a little touch of one of the most basic activities that can further develop your little one’s fine motor skills.

Between the age of 12 and 18 months, it’s possible your baby will want to write and draw anywhere he finds, be sure to encourage him to give it a try, directing his attention to an appropriate canvas! There is endless research that suggests drawing, doodling and scribbling play a larger role in child development than we first thought.

What are some of the benefits of drawing? 

  • Further develop your little one’s motor skills such as holding and hand-eye coordination, both of which will ultimately help him dominate writing and drawing on a higher level.
  • Get those creative juices flowing!
  • Even though they’re still young, children need outlets where they can express themselves, drawing is a perfect way to do so.
  • They can learn in a visual and easy way differences and similarities in shapes, colors, and sizes.
  • Understanding that when pen hits paper a mark is made, your little one gets to experience cause and effect first hand.
  • Drawing can serve as a great distraction and has been shown to improve mood.
  • Encouraging your child’s creativity has benefits in their ability to solve problems later on.
  • When kids feel good while creating something totally new it helps boost their self-confidence and later on, will feel the freedom to experiment and create new ways of thinking or doing something.

There are different ways to encourage your child’s creativity, independence and artistic skills. The following are just of a few of the infinite possibilities: Continue reading

The benefits of crawling!

The traditional hands-and-knees or cross crawl is full of benefits. Not only is it your baby’s first official means of mobility and independence it is an important part of your baby’s physical, cognitive and social-emotional development! If you’d like to learn some of the many benefits, continue reading:

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Can music benefit your toddler more than reading?

Music has become a natural part of a toddler’s development and growth, it can kickstart learning and has proven to offer lifelong benefits. Music boosts all areas of a child’s development and skills, such as cognitive, social and emotional, motor, language, and overall literacy. Exposing your little one to music early on helps him learn the sounds and meaning of words. In summary, music helps the mind and body work together as a team.

Learning that music is important for your baby’s development does not mean you should go and spend all your money on a Baby Einstein or Baby-Genius music collection. It does not mean either that you should enroll your 3-year-old in violin lessons. Unlocking a child’s intelligence and happiness may indeed lie partly in music – but it is as easy as making up songs with your toddler!

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The Benefits of Boredom

When pre-school kids and toddlers complain that they’re bored, parents often try to relieve their boredom right away. They feel responsible when they hear that word and some try to provide technological entertainment to solve the “problem”. But perhaps they are rushing in to help too quickly… what would happen if parents were to leave their children be bored every now and then? Would it affect their development?

Coping with boredom can be a real challenge for young children and their parents too. It may be tempting to fill every second of the day with activities. And even though classes such as art, sports, or music can certainly benefit a child’s development, children also need time for themselves. A time to rest their minds, to daydream and discover what truly interests them.

“If parents spend all their time filling up their child’s spare time, then the child’s never going to learn to do this for themselves […] children need to learn how to be bored in order to motivate themselves to get things done. Being bored is a way to make children self-reliant.” says Lyn Fry, a child psychologist in London with a focus on education.

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The magnificent benefits of music!

“Music gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.” – Plato

Recent research using fMRI and PET scan technology have found that listening to music lights up multiple areas of the brain as sound was processed and all this happens in a matter of seconds. Further research has revealed that playing music takes the brain a step further, stimulating a full body workout for the brain. Now, teaching babies or toddlers to formally play instruments is not developmentally appropriate, but that doesn’t mean that an infant and toddler can not engage or benefit from music. On the contrary, listening to people sing, playing with everyday objects or toys to create sounds, and singing and dancing with caregivers are wonderful for your little one’s brain development.

During the first three years of your child’s life, neural connections form at their fastest rates. Exposure to music in early childhood fosters and helps develop many skills including speech development, audition, coordination, emotional development, and even social skills. Below are some of the ways music benefits this rapid development and growth, and a few activities to try at home. Continue reading

How to find age appropriate toys for your little one

Kids develop in different stages, so it’s good to have toys that will enhance their experiences, depending on what stages they are on. So in addition to finding safe toys for your child, it’s recommended to find toys that match their level of development and budding skills.

 

Most of the time you’ll find that a lot of safe and suitable play material can be found right at home and can be used in more than one way for children of different ages – you just have to get creative! Below you’ll find a list of appropriate toys for different ages, based on recommendations by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).

 

0 – 6 months:

 

Young babies like to look at faces and bright colors, and follow them with their eyes. They can reach for objects and explore them with their hands, feet, and mouth. When they hear a peculiar sound, babies will turn and look towards it. Good toys for this age include:

  • Rattles
  • Large rings
  • Teething toys
  • Squeeze toys
  • Board books with nursery rhymes
  • Unbreakable mirrors

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6 Ways to Boost your Baby’s Memory and Attention

Can you think back to your earliest memory? Chances are it may date back to when you were 3 or even 8 years old. Understanding your baby’s memory, however, is a different story. It develops in stages and even though it began to develop the moment your little one was born, it works more for recognition and familiarity, giving him a sense of comfort when he experiences something he recognizes.
More specifically, during your baby’s first 2 months, he will be able to recognize familiar faces and voices, especially those he sees every day. In fact, newborns can recognize their mothers’ voice at birth and will also recognize her smell after one week! This kind of recognition is the first indication of memory.

There are lots of things you can do to help your baby strengthen his memory and attention skills. Here are some tips and suggestions you can try at home:

 

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Learning through imitation

Babies learn through imitation; it gives them the opportunity to practice and master a new skill. They observe others doing things and then copy their actions in an attempt to do them themselves. For example, it’s how your baby knows, without you having to give him specific instructions, to hold a toy phone up to his ear! He has learned from watching you talk on the phone!

Imitation can also be considered as a basis for the development of empathy, or having the ability to experience what someone else is feeling. In fact, an infant’s ability to imitate simple actions, like sticking out his tongue, originates from the same part of the brain that allows us to develop empathy. Recent studies have found that imitation is not only one behavioral skill, instead it’s more like different ways of combining and using diverse types of knowledge, developing across the first 2 years of life (Jones, 2007). Continue reading