When your child is in preschool they will for the first time begin to be introduced to the world of academic learning. For the first time they will be tested on their abilities and they will be forced to use logic and reasoning. The majority of preschool of course isn’t quite degree-level education, and it will be mostly spent running around dressed as firemen.
This is a very formative time in your child’s life, when their brain is most plastic and where like a sponge they will be able to learn almost anything. So it’s your job then to take advantage of this and to use the opportunity to test your children at home as well to develop their brains and help them to excel at preschool and at primary school when they get there.
Of course if you are a teacher at a preschool then you are going to be even more interested in this – and much of your life will revolve around finding tasks for preschoolers to help encourage healthy brain development. Here we will look at just a selection of brain-boosting activities that you can use to help them improve a range of their mental abilities.
There are countless games that preschoolers can play that will help them to start to develop their abilities and different board games challenge different aspects of their development. Of course you can’t expect them to play Risk with you just yet so you need to keep it basic; but even something as seemingly simple as Snakes and Ladders can help to encourage them to learn to count and to remember which piece is there’s. Slightly more complex games such as Cops n’ Robbers, or Droughts will challenge them further and challenge them to use forward planning and strategizing. Mastermind meanwhile is great for increasing their memory skills.
It’s not quite a board game so it will go separately here – but the most basic memory game of turning over cards is a one that all children know and enjoy and that increases their memory and attention – perfect for preschoolers. You can also make this more varied by having a selection of items and then removing one item while they’re turned around. Then when they turn back ask them to identify which item is missing and that will challenge their attention and memory again.
Reading children’s books is a great way to encourage cognitive development, and the books are designed with that in mind. You can achieve this by giving them a ‘reading time’ and sending them to read a book on their own, or by getting them to follow along while you read them a slightly more complex story. You can also try to engage them more by getting them to answer questions about the story as you go.
Making music is great for children’s spacial awareness, sense of timing and more. Get them to sing along with some music, or clap along, or create clapping games so that they have to copy the timing and number of claps you do. Getting them to play with a xylophone or drum set is something they’ll also greatly enjoy and that may uncover hidden talents early on that you can develop.
Games like catch are perfect for preschoolers in that they develop hand eye coordination. If you are teaching a class of preschoolers then get them to sit in a circle with a foam ball and to shout the name of who they are going to throw it to before throwing. This will help them to pay attention as they listen out for their own name, it’s sociable, but it also improves their hand eye coordination.
I Went to the Shops…
You probably remember this game – you take it in turns to repeat the phrase ‘I went to the shops’ and to add something that you bought. So you would say ‘I went to the shops and bought an apple’ and they would say ‘I went to the shops and bought an apple and a pear’ and you would then say ‘apple, a pear and a fridge magnet’. You can make it fun by thinking of unusual and quirky things to buy, but it’s a great game for developing their speaking skills.
Set something in the middle of the table and get your child to draw it. This develops a range of skills and will help them to learn to hold their pen or pencil correctly, to learn about perspective and depth and more. If you want to test them further, put the object on the table and ask them to draw what it would look like from another angle. This requires them to be able to rotate the object in their mind’s eye, and to imagine what something looks like from another point of view.
Getting them to draw things that they can’t see meanwhile is a great way to get them to use their creativity and imagination and you can this way get them to think about things. For instance ask them to draw their family, or a typical family. This gives them the challenge of drawing people, it gets them to work from memory, and it tells you a bit about their perception of their family and of other people’s. On top of this you can get them to draw completely imaginary things – like a monster or a space ship and that will get them to think creatively.
If they aren’t quite ready for drawing yet, then coloring in is a good idea too – or you can get them to work from an image such as a stick man and then add things on to change their profession or their clothes.
Doing a puppet show and asking the children to participate is a great way to get them more engaged in a range of problems and to learn about social interaction. Encourage them to interact by helping the puppet to solve problems, and by getting them to shout out and help.
If you’re stuck for ideas then there are lots of television programs with ideas for things for children to build. Get your children to make things using house hold objects and they will learn to manipulate objects and about the basics of engineering. Alternatively you can use things like Lego or Duplo building blocks to make less mess and to create a range of different possibilities using a set procedure.
An abacus is a great tool for teaching children how maths works, because it allows them to visualize it in front of them. They’ll also love playing with something physical like this.