Brain-Boosting Activities for Your Preschooler
How activities such as playing, reading, and learning languages stimulate your preschooler's mind.
There’s no way to guarantee your preschooler is going to be a little Einstein. But certain activities for kids aged 3 to 5 are more likely to give their brains an early jump start and put them ahead of the game.
Up until age 2, babies’ and toddlers’ brains are growing by leaps and bounds every day. They develop language and motor skills faster than they ever will.
But between 3 to 5 years, that growth slows. Instead the brain is making countless connections within its different regions.
Preschoolers focus more on absorbing the world around them. Their minds are developing problem-solving skills and using language to negotiate. They’re also learning how to coordinate their bodies to do things like aim and kick a ball.
“Kids should be out there exploring and getting ready for their next important job: going to school,” says developmental pediatrician Michele Macias, MD, spokeswoman for the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and chairwoman of the AAP's section on developmental and behavioral pediatrics.
The No. 1 brain booster for preschoolers is one-on-one time with parents, Macias tells WebMD.
Even though this is a time to learn independence, the parent-child attachment is still there at this age. “The simple exchange of language and ideas is a much more important brain builder than putting your child in a million different activities,” says Macias, a pediatrics professor at the Medical University of South Carolina.
Not only is it a great way to get quality “face time” with your child, reading together is critical to boosting brain power.
Studies show that hitting the books with your preschooler improves early literacy. It helps kids sharpen language and vocabulary, and sparks discussions with the parent that promote a better understanding, says child psychologist Richard Gallagher, PhD.
Books that tell a story and ones that teach counting, ABC’s, sorting and matching, and similar core concepts are perfect for this age, says Gallagher, who is an associate professor of child and adolescent psychiatry at New York University’s Child Study Center.