If your child is spending more time swiping and scrolling, instead of interaction with the real world, you need to act before it’s too late says Dr (Brig.) K S Rana, senior consultant, Paediatric Neurology at Venkateshwara Hospital, Dwarka, New Delhi.
Early childhood is the blue print of adulthood. These years are akin to the foundation stone of a building under construction. Any abrasion during this time is permanent and can never be rectified. Development during these formative years is critical. Your child’s cognitive development takes place in the early years of his life. The overuse of gadgets stunts this growth and causes a negative impact on his overall development. These gadgets keep your child away from the social stimuli that is critical for the development of the brain. A child’s memory goes hand in hand with his awakening of consciousness. As your child grows up, he will start to recognise faces, words and colours, names of friends, and even nursery rhymes. With age, they begin to record and remember experiences, both good and bad, which will eventually shape the rest of their lives. What strings together their intellectual, practical and autobiographical modes of remembering, is memory.
A child’s life is shaped by his ability to remember things. Children need both long and short term memory to succeed in school, personal pursuits, play, social and personal life. Short-term memory allows children to remember things that happen in the recent past such as details from a story. Long-term memory skills include remembering how to read the names of friends and family members. Kids also use long-term memory to recall how to do basic movements and processes such as riding a bike and solving a puzzle.
Both long-term and short-term memory skills help children learn to think, plan, reflect, follow directions, solve problems, imagine and learn basic literacy skills. These key developments in childhood memory occurs between infancy and kindergarten. Problems with the development of memory tends to delay language and motor skill development. Fortunately, you dear parents, can help shape your child’s memory skills through various brain-engaging activities.
THE FOLLOWING TIPS CAN HELP BOOST YOUR CHILD’S MEMORY:
1 Keep your child’s mind engaged with memory games and nature:
Learning does not have to be limited to school, books or even boring activities. The best way to promote your child’s education while making sure they have fun is through mind games or brain teasers. Simple and fun activities not only stimulate your child’s brain, but also accelerate their verbal and motor skills. They could be one-on- one games such as building blocks, puzzles, or word hunt. They could also involve group activities like board games, hide and seek, etc. Engage your child in nature like counting trees, colours of flowers, counting stars and flowing water streams. Explain to them what nature is all about. For example, how the trees grow and why the water flows in the streams. Exposing children to nature is the best way to make them more inquisitive. Inquisitiveness enhances the imagination and explanatory power of the brain.
2 Ensure they have a noise free environment to study in:
Too much noise around the house negatively affects a child’s memory skills. A noise-free environment is said to improve concentration and help your child learn better. Although concentration is paramount during tests and examinations, it’s ideal if we can communicate softly and keep noise down at other times as well. A quiet and calm household will aid your child’s memory and concentration. Constant listening to music or chatting using earphones is damaging to a child’s eardrums and growing brain.
3 Make sure they get adequate amount of sleep:
A proper sleeping routine is the best way to improve memory for kids, as well as for adults. It is believed that the brain converts short term memory into long term memory when children are asleep and completely relaxed. Various hormones secreted during sleep are very important for the memory development of the child. Children need 10 to 12 hours of sleep but these hours should not mean letting them sleep late in the next morning. Ideally, children should be in bed by 9 pm so that they can start in a fresh mood the next day.
4 Give them adequate down time:
Fatigue can take levels of concentration to an all-time low. Children lose focus when they get excessively tired. Sleeping easily after being extremely tired does not mean that they have slept well. This fatigue gets carried over to the next few days and affects their productivity. Make sure your children have a balance between work and play. There needs to be a little fun time without too much physical or mental exertion, where parents are actively involved. Engage your child in storytelling, board games, general conversations about school and friends, or just singing songs. Watching TV or playing video games does not count.
5 Always keep them well fed:
Often, children lose focus and attention because they are not full. Children need to eat four to five times in day to keep their concentration levels up throughout the day. Make sure that whatever they are eating is balanced, nutritive and tasty. Let your child eat by himself. Make him sit at the dining table with the family. Discussion and observation by children at the dining table along with nutritive food is also essential to boost one’s memory. Avoid indulging in junk food, as it does little to aid overall development and growth. On the contrary, junk food is said to make children dull and lazy. The key here is to let your child feel pangs of hunger. This makes it demand feeding rather than a scheduled feeding.
6 Time to play:
Play during childhood is vital for brain development. A young child must play at least three to four hours a day, outside the house, with his group of friends. Play enhances the overall personality of the child in all aspects. A child learns social norms, adjustment, friendship and adaptability skills. Children who play regularly are less prone for various behavioural problems and their IQ is superior to those who don’t indulge in outdoor games in their formative years. Later in life, these children adjust well at home and their work place. However, children must interact with other kids in their own age groups, irrespective of the socio-economic status of their parents. Moreover, children must choose their own games to play, and not go with what their parents tell them to do. Games that have too many rules tends to negate the fun aspect, and doesn’t help the development of the brain and memory. Rather, it causes undue stress.
Following these simple tips will ensure your child has an overall healthy development, but more importantly, experiences the world the way a child is meant to. MB