What's in a Smart Mom's Toy Box?
FUN, EASY WAYS TO BUILD YOUR CHILD'S BRAIN SKILLS
Bicycles, baby dolls, Nintendo - oh my!
As parents we're often tempted to spoil our children at Christmas - even if it means maxing out our credit cards in the process. We are conflicted about what to buy them; video games and DVDs keep their interest, but we worry we're not doing enough to stimulate their minds.
Here are some compromises for your guilty conscience and your wallet!
Simple toys, when used properly, can help develop complex learning skills. Cognitive skills (attention, auditory/visual processing, memory, processing speed) are essential tools that help kids become better learners. Research now shows that learning skills can be taught - and therefore improved. Brain training does for the mind what exercise does for the body!
Brain training is a simple but powerful way to enhance a student's core ability to learn faster, easier, and better. The brain processes information through a complex network of nerve cells called neurons. As we learn, groupings of neurons physically work together to accomplish learning or thinking tasks. Research shows that additional, nearby neurons are drawn into this process when the task is new or unfamiliar, or when the intensity of the learning demand is increased. Once the task is mastered, the borrowed neurons are released to go back to other duties; however, the gains in efficiency and processing speed required for that task are retained and make learning-related tasks easier.
At LearningRx, expert brain trainers are helping children and adults learn faster and easier by improving their cognitive skills everyday! By testing to identify the cognitive weaknesses of an individual, LearningRx can then target and strengthen the individual cognitive skills that need improvement - results guaranteed!
So this holiday season as you peruse the aisles for presents that will be enjoyed and provide a lasting benefit, keep in mind the power of brain training and let LearningRx help!
Here are a few simple games LearningRx recommends:
Alphabet blocks or Scrabble tiles ($6-$12)
Help develop analytical skills by using alphabet blocks to make up nonsense words starting with two to three blocks (or tiles). Pick a vowel and a consonant and create a nonsense word, then have the child remove one of the blocks and add a new one while verbally trying to figure out what the new nonsense word sounds like. If the child can't read yet, just say the sounds for them. Also ask them to try and figure out from hearing the sounds what the new word would sound like when they switch the blocks. This builds phonemic awareness through sound blending and segmenting. And because this exercise is about sounds, not letter knowledge, parents should work with basic sounds and not use letter names, which can be confusing.
Better move over Legos and Lincoln Logs! Use these building tools along with the accompanying pictures of completed projects to increase attention, logic & reasoning, and visual processing.
Available for children and teens of all ages, this numbers puzzle can strengthen deductive and intuitive reasoning, numerical fluency, working memory, and sequential processing.
Old Maid ($3-$5)
Spread cards out face down and have children draw two at a time looking for matches. Cards that don't match are put back in the same location. This builds memory and attention.
Puzzles are great tools to develop visual discrimination, as well as logic and reasoning. Math, science, test-taking, and most importantly, reading and comprehension, all require visualization skills.
Speed Stack Cups ($10-$40)
This fun, simple game builds speed, planning, and eye-hand coordination.
This classic brain game helps divided attention, executive processing, logic and reasoning, planning and problem solving.
* To increase processing speed, parents can use a stopwatch to encourage fast completion with any of these games.
*These games can be found at local toy stores, Wal-Mart, Target, or online at Amazon.com.
LearningRx specializes in identifying and correcting the underlying cognitive skill deficiencies that keep people from achieving their full potential in school, business or life. Personal brain trainers use intensive, one-on-one, game-like exercises to quickly enhance weak cognitive skills such as attention, memory, processing speed, and problem solving. To learn more, visit www.learningrx.com/shreveport or www.learningrx.com/bossier-city or you can call either center at 318-671-0310 (Shreveport) or 318-742-8004 (Bossier).
Swee'Pea Posters does the greatest job with up to 9 pieces of your child's artwork. It is a unique idea for a grandparent. You can see samples on their site. (www.zsquaredgraphics.com) High quality posters made from your child's very own artwork.
Have a birthday party where guests bring books to donate to the hospital. You can choose any organization that is meaningful to you and find out what they need that you can provide. Make it known on the invites that this is where the gifts are intended - not for your child. Later, with your child you bring these items to the organization, and it is a very meaningful lesson learned.
Are you trying to figure out the perfect gift for your child's teacher? Below are some ideas submitted by parents and teachers. Do something special for the person who is making a difference in your child's lifea and education.