With the school year well on its way and the Feb-March exam season not far away, most children are likely to experience stress and pressure coping with homework, project completion, and exam preparation. This is an apposite time to stimulate and reenergise their cognitive capabilities and improve concentration and retention through innovative strategies. K.P. Malini recommends six ways to boost your child’s brain and cognitive power.
1.A dose of nature is a great way to improve the attention and concentration spans of children. A recent study published in Frontiers in Psychology (January 2018), conducted by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA, highlights that lessons conducted outdoors significantly improve children’s attention spans and boost learning. The study reveals that even a view of greenery through a classroom window can have a positive effect on children’s learning and attention spans. (NB: Research has also demonstrated that green time boosts concentration levels and productivity in adult workplaces).
2. Stimulate children’s brains through enjoyable problem-solving exercises, video games (set a time limit), crosswords, puzzles etc. Games such as Memory, Scrabble and Uno improve attention spans, while tasks that involve sequencing (eg. building a home or aeroplane model) improve the ability to focus.
3. Eat right; think better — a healthy and balanced diet contributes significantly to children’s cognitive well-being. For instance if children skip breakfast, they are unlikely to be able to focus in school. Ensure your child eats a healthy breakfast followed by lunch, snack and dinner. Nuts, avocados, and eggs are known to boost brain power. In particular, several research studies have revealed that consumption of walnuts improves children’s performance in tests involving cognitive functions, including those assessing information processing speed, memory, and concentration.
4. Regular exercise and outdoor play also have an important role in re-energising and enhancing cognitive capabilities. In particular practising yoga improves energy levels and brain functions. Researchers have found that practicing yoga and mindfulness meditation for 25 minutes per day significantly improves attention spans.
5. A power nap for 20 minutes or half an hour after school helps children focus on homework and improves retention.
6. Help children set short time goals for completing homework and study. Encourage them to take short breaks after 15-20 minutes of intense study.