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Health & Parenting

Brain-Boosting Activities for Your Preschooler

How activities such as playing, reading, and learning languages stimulate your preschooler's mind.
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Learning Another Language

Research shows that younger kids can pick up multiple languages much faster than when they get older. Learning a second tongue early on also gives a double punch of stimulation to the areas of the brain responsible for storing, sequencing, and saying words, Gallagher says.

A second language also helps with developing verbal and spatial abilities, and promotes better vocabulary and reading skills. An added perk: Kids get a greater sense of cultural diversity.

Questions About TV, Video Games

Wondering if that alphabet computer game your 4-year old plays or those educational videos he watches actually help? Here’s what experts tell WebMD.

Yes, educational electronic games, videos, and certain educational TV programs might benefit your preschooler, but with several qualifiers.

First, your child needs to be engaged in a back-and-forth interaction in order to really get a benefit, not just sitting there. Parents should carefully choose high-quality programs and be with the child when he’s watching or playing. Your job is to guide and reinforce what’s being shown.

Limit your preschooler's total amount of screen time to no more than one or two hours daily, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. That includes time with TV, computers, game consoles, and anything else with a screen. Keep the TV and other gadgets out of their bedrooms.

Kids' Classes

Sports classes are great for providing some structure, creating a social setting, and building important motor skills and balance. Similarly, music and art courses can improve a preschooler’s artistic or musical intelligence. However, there’s no strong evidence that taking these classes will turn Junior into a super-genius, Gallagher says.

As for those programs that claim to raise your child’s IQ or have him reading by age 3: Very few studies support those claims, Macias says. “Sure, your preschooler might be reading words, but there’s no proof they translate into comprehension. The brain has to be mature enough for it,” Macias says. She suggests that reading books together is just as good at priming a young mind for active reading.

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