Category Archives: Cognitive

Surprise! Awaken your Child’s Innate Curiosity

Babies naturally slow us down – in a good way. They look at us in awe and instantly half a million neurons fire and absorb everything we do and say. Every time we connect with them, their eyes and brains light up simultaneously. Once we take the time to live and enjoy these moments, we allow ourselves to slow down. After all, that’s what babies do – they lose track of time and expand their awareness. Continue reading

Why babies crave repetitive motion

Balance, the ability to sense and adjust to gravity and perceive any kind of acceleration is a fundamental sense. But if this sense is fundamental, why is it often ignored?

Known as the vestibular system, this sense functions below the level of our cerebral cortex and we often take it for granted. The vestibular nerve is the first fiber tract in the brain to begin myelination (a process by which fatty layer accumulates around nerve cells—enabling transmission of faster information for complex brain processes). By only 5 months after gestation, the vestibular apparatus is ready and the vestibular pathways to eyes and spinal cord have begun the process of myelination so the entire system works effectively. Continue reading

5 ways to boost your child’s creativity!

We commonly think about creativity as the colors someone chooses for a painting or a drawing. But having creativity goes beyond just choosing colors, it’s also a way of thinking, solving problems, and applying knowledge.

Experts say creativity is ageless and timeless, but more importantly, creativity can be acquired and fostered! From their earliest days, babies respond to contrasts, colors, sounds, and movements. How they integrate these various experiences will influence their development, especially in how they acquire their creativity. When creativity is fostered in the early years it can bring tons of benefits. A study made at UNC-Chapel Hill found that kids’ imagination and creativity specifically helped them to cope with pain. Creativity also helps kids be more confident, develop social skills, and learn more.

You can foster creativity at home in different ways. Here are a few things you should try with your little one:

1. Practice physical skills. By learning to move, grasp objects, and other physical skills your baby will learn about his world, thereby promoting his cognitive development. This is one of the primary ways your baby will develop new ways of thinking, engaging, discovering, and problem-solving. What to do? Playing with toys such as blocks, rings, cups, or even objects that make interesting sounds will ignite your child’s curiosity, and help with his motor skills.

2. Enhance your baby’s senses. When babies have diverse opportunities to explore through their senses, they view exploration as fun and that helps them become even more creative later on. What to do? You can try different things like playing with textures, music, and even food! Going outside the box will be fun!

3. Pretend play. Allow your child an expressive outlet for his thoughts, feelings, wishes, and creativity with pretend playWhat to do? Challenge his new representational abilities: have him hop like a bunny, roar like a lion, or get more abstract and see if he can become a kite or a balloon that’s too full and slowly lets all the air out!

4. Read books. Books will not only enhance your baby’s language skills, they will also help him discover new worlds and boost his creativity! What to do? Try to make a habit out of reading by including it in your daily routine. A great thing to do is to get used to reading a bedtime story. Choose books with creative plot lines so that your child’s imagination flourishes.

5. Get artsy. Art is one the simplest (and fun) ways to let imagination and creativity flow. It is important to give your little one free rein over his work. That way, he can be more creative! What to do? Let your little one’s imagination go wild, try painting, drawing, building, and even sculpting with play-doh!


Want to know more about creativity and how to enhance it? Check out these links:

http://www.scholastic.com/parents/resources/article/stages-milestones/creative-development-0-2-year-olds

http://newparent.com/mom/boost-your-babys-creativity

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/beautiful-minds/201108/how-our-senses-influence-creativity

http://www.parenting.com/article/10-easy-ways-to-fire-your-childs-imagination-21354373

5 Things you didn’t know about your baby!

You surely have noticed that your baby can do many amazing things at such a young age. Babies are full of surprises! Read these interesting facts and solve some of the mysteries that surround your little one!

  1. If your baby is having trouble sleeping and you take him for a car ride, do you notice that almost magically your little one sleeps? The reason for this is that the vestibular system (in charge of balance and spatial control) tells your baby’s brain that he’s moving. Since your baby can only see the inside of the car, the visual system is sending signals to the brain that he’s standing still. This confusion causes your baby to go to sleep. Even though this method is effective, it is not recommended because your baby probably won’t get deep, restorative sleep.
  1. Have you asked yourself why your baby creates a scene every time you leave the room even if it’s just for a little while? Or why does peek-a-boo amuse your baby so much? This happens because your baby doesn’t understand object permanence yet. This means that if something is out of your baby’s sight, he will assume it doesn’t exist. Babies gain the ability to know that something exists whether it is in their field of vision or not, before they turn one.
  1. Have you ever wondered how your baby managed to live 9 months underwater? During pregnancy and the first 6 months, humans have the diving reflex, allowing babies to remain underwater longer than an average adult can. When a baby is underwater, they immediately stop breathing while their heart rate decreases by 20%. Also, their glottis (opening that allows air to pass to the lungs) closes, causing water to go to their stomach instead of damaging their lungs.
  1. Have you asked yourself how many neural synapses your baby has compared to you? On average, newborns have 100 billion neurons, that’s approximately the same number of stars in the Milky Way! The number of neurons remains the same in adults. However, the number of neural connections or synapses is higher when your child is 2-4 years old. The neural network is prepared to learn anything, like languages, playing instruments, and sports. When your kid becomes an adult, the number of synapses reduces to one third of what they were because only the remaining ones were reinforced.
  1. Have you wondered how your baby recognizes you if his vision hasn’t developed yet? Before your baby is born (at around 7 months of pregnancy), your baby starts hearing your voice, and that’s why they’re able to recognize you since day one! Also, your baby starts recognizing your scent after only 3 days of being born. Not only can your baby recognize your smell, it’s his favorite one!

 


Want to learn more about your baby? Check out these links:

http://www.parenting.com/article/what-your-baby-knows-about-you

http://www.babycentre.co.uk/x1048249/is-it-true-that-babies-are-born-with-the-ability-to-swim

http://psychology.about.com/od/oindex/g/object-permanence.htm

http://www.zerotothree.org/child-development/brain-development/faqs-on-the-brain.html#experience

The logical minds of babies: Considering sample and sampling process

MIT Early Childhood Cognition Lab lead investigator Laura Schulz studies early childhood learning and how it fundamentally relates to human cognition.Schulz has been trying to understand how children learn and absorb so much in a short period of time and how they reach logical conclusions from the data that surrounds them.

In a study she conducted, Schulz intended to prove that babies make inferences from their surroundings and learn by using logic. In the experiment, a fifteen month-old baby is shown a box full of balls in two colors, blue and yellow. The balls either squeak or don’t squeak. For the first part of the experiment, the majority of the balls in the box are blue, and a researcher takes out three blue balls in a row and squeezes them so that they squeak. The baby then infers that the balls squeak.

But what happens when you hand that baby a yellow ball from the same box? Continue reading

Why is curiosity so important and how can we encourage it?

Babies are born curious – they come into the world with an innate desire to understand how things work. They are drawn to new things and experiences, they question, explore, and by doing so, they learn!

If you want your child to be a lifelong learner, the best way to do it is by cultivating his curiosity. All children have some level of innate curiosity that motivates them to explore, however it is important that you take into account your child’s particular curiosity style. Remember, not every child is the same. For example, some children like to explore with their minds, while others prefer to do it through physical activities (touching, crawling, smelling, or tasting). Provide opportunities for each style within a safe and encouraging environment!

Research has shown that it is a child’s inner desire to learn (their curiosity), not external pressures, that motivates them to seek out new experiences and solutions. Curious people are “seekers” of knowledge, they do not only enjoy exploring, but they actually like to look for challenges. Curiosity helps people approach uncertainty in a positive light.

A recent study conducted by researchers from John Hopkins University revealed the critical role curiosity plays. In their experiment, when babies were surprised – that is, when their expectations of an object’s behavior was challenged – researchers discovered that they learned best! Curiosity drew babies to test, explore, and consequently figure out what was going on to better understand the situation.

Given the importance curiosity plays in learning, how can parents nurture their child’s curiosity and make them become knowledge “seekers”?

Here are some tips that will help you get started:

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Building blocks and puzzle play help boost math-related skills

Although toys, such as puzzles and blocks, may not be as flashy as video games or electric toys, there is evidence suggesting that children who play with them may gain a whole lot of cognitive benefits. In fact, research shows that specific types of play are actually associated with the development of certain cognitive skills, meaning there may be some toys you should be paying attention to! 

According to a study done by researchers from Rhodes College, data from 847 children were examined and the results indicated that children who played frequently (about 6 times per week) with puzzles, blocks, and board games tended to have better spatial reasoning ability. Interestingly, other types of play such as drawing, riding a bike, or playing math games were not associated with the development of such ability. Another study conducted by psychologist Susan Levine from the University of Chicago, a leading expert on mathematics development in young children, further confirmed that children who played with puzzles early on, develop better spatial skills.

 

But in what way does having better spatial skills help your child?

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Developmental Edge: The Serious Need for Imaginative Play

When people think of play, they automatically think of children engaging in physical exercises such as tag, ball games, or playing on slides and swings – in other words, kids exploring their physical environments. Play has been shown to be a key component in development in a child’s early years – even the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights has recognized it as a right for every child! But although physical play is the first thing that comes to mind, this is not the only kind of play. In fact, there is another type of play – imaginative or pretend play – that has caught the eye of many researchers, educators, and psychologists because of the many benefits it may provide.

According to Laura E. Berk, renowned professor and researcher in the field of child development, imaginative play stimulates the senses and generates opportunities for exploration and creative thinking that can help your little one improve various language, emotional, social, and cognitive skills – including creativity, impulse inhibition, and empathy!

Given the importance of pretend play, many parents may wonder at what age does pretend play start to emerge in children?

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Executive function: the most important set of skills we can teach our kids

Early experiences – whether positive or negative – have a profound impact on the developing brain and its basic neural circuitry, which in turn provides the foundation for more complex higher-level skills. Of these higher-level skills, executive function has been gaining a lot of attention lately – and rightly so. Executive function helps us focus on different information at the same time; make decisions; review and change plans as necessary; and control our emotions and impulses. Laying a strong foundation in order to allow the acquisition of these executive function skills is one of the most important tasks of the early childhood years because they are so critical to adult functioning. Executive function serves as the brain’s air traffic controller – managing all the different signals, impulses, and desires of the brain. The brain’s prefrontal cortex is critical to executive function, but it does not act alone, as it controls behavior through interactions with the rest of the brain. By the time a child’s first birthday comes along, the brain – which originally worked almost as a set of isolated neurons – starts to function as a large network of interconnected areas. This begins to allow coordinated action and the management of different impulses. As adults, this translates into an ability to multitask, display self-control, stay focused in spite of distractions, and follow multi-step directions – all critical to achieving our goals, getting along with others, and becoming contributing members of society. Continue reading

The first few years: cognitive development

 

In this series, we’ll explain each of Kinedu’s four areas of development. Keep reading to find out what you can expect from your baby’s development in the first years!

 

Babies are a lot like little scientists – actively testing the world to figure out how it works. A baby’s cognition – or the group of mental processes that include abstract thinking, memory, problem solving, and attention – helps create this understanding of the world.

One of the first big leaps your baby will take is developing a sense of agency – or that she can make things happen. This is tied with understanding cause and effect – again, pretty important when it comes to making some sense of how the world works.

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