We all want super brainy children. Sure we don’t want to achieve this by pressurizing them but yet we want them to be smart and intellectually bright. Remember popping folic acid tablets before, during and after pregnancy? Well that was the very first step to ensure proper brain development. A right start for right growth. And that was the easiest step too.
Apart from the folic tablets intake, as a mother I definitely started late in this ‘conscious’ propelling of children’s cognitive development. I’m not sure of any scientific fact here but soon after Peanut was born, I met another baby whose mom read to her while she was still in mommy’s womb and gotta tell you – she was one bright spark. So I was definitely ready for some catch up with Peanut and then Peanut and Buttercup got exposed to lots of the following mental stimulation-
Luckily for me, his initial years were brought up in the laps of his grandparents and a great grandmother to boast and his aunts constantly cradled him. What that did was, he got spoken to A LOT. Like every waking moment he was cooing with someone or the other. His stimulation was all Talk, he had no interest in crawling, walking or eating. Probably why he walked late and eats so little. He just wants to get on with the talking. Now it’s mostly him who’s doing all the talk while we have no choice but to listen to him. And his talk is about dinosaur pterodactyl or some exotic fish. We don’t do run off the mill hi-hello. Who has time to waste on that, lets get cracking on the world issues. But jokes apart, his ability to talk up a storm on interesting trivia is thanks to all that ‘talk’ he got exposed to since he was a baby.
And really there are no ground rules on the ‘talk’. Go ahead and coo with the baby and indulge in the baby talk, which is fine. Talk all proper with all the words enunciated correctly and grammar flowing perfectly, that is just as fine. Talk about the weather, talk about your life, talk about world politics, the subject just does not matter. God only knows our discussions are full blown dramatic versions of the news channels, as if the world will cease to exist if we didn’t give a very firm opinion on the world at large. But do talk or surround yourself and your baby in an environment where there is lots of constant talk. A close friend of mine shares the cutest baby videos of her little one and herself. And all she is doing is talking to her little one with vivid faces or exaggerated words and he either coos back or is in complete splits with his big giggles.
Reading is our favorite hobby. So what if the books we now read are a Julia Donaldson book, a peppa pig book, noddy series, Dr. Seuss, some pop up books (the kiddos still love them). Peanut’s love for books has inspired Buttercup to follow suit and often she will be found sprawled on the floor with a book far beyond her years. The first time I saw her read a book of this kind, I thought I had a prodigy at hand. At a closer look I realized that she was using the few pictures in that book to concoct her own story and tell it aloud with all the suitable hand gestures (minime at play). Other times Peanut has been found sitting beside Buttercup and reading to her. The best part is that none of this is at our insistence but simply because they are read to daily and they are copycats who love to over emphasize how I talk.
Again no ground rules for what types of book to read to the precious minds (I’m hoping profanity laden or sexually oriented books are not in the consideration set). Anything that speaks to their interests can be dramatized to suit them. Just the other day I had to read an insect’s encyclopedia for them. Love for creepy crawlies just keeps growing!
The world of Puzzles is ever so mysterious. Till all the pieces are in the correct place you don’t see the full picture. Kind of like ‘life’ itself. Peanut and Buttercup entered into this enchanting world and Buttercup still remains there. Sitting in my lap while Peanut and I worked on puzzles, Buttercup soon picked up the pieces quite literally and progressed to solving the picture puzzles herself. Until she is really super duper stuck, she just doesn’t like asking for help. But she likes an audience so Hubby and I sit beside her while she finishes up a puzzle and then in a very matter of fact manner she moves on to another puzzle. We fondly call her ‘little madam’ just for this dramatic ‘don’t really care BUT do care a lot that you see my achievements’. And it is quite an achievement as she solves bigger puzzles with tiny piece puzzles.
These are just some of the things we do in our home to encourage our geniuses but there is a little genius in every home. There’s a 2 year old child who knows every possible car make and brand and another little toddler who instantly recognizes logos for the brands they represent (some that adults would struggle to recognize). What each of these geniuses has in common is Exposure to their area of interest or just plain exposure to wide array of experiences. Buttercup will be 4 soon and already she knows a thing or two of car gears. The shifting of gears piqued her interests and I was only too happy to oblige her with lots of information on gears and running of the car. Exposure. A walk in the colony can be just as rewarding for the little ones. While walking to our favorite ice cream shop we chanced upon a broken bee hive. The 4 of us were down on our knees on a public pavement discussing this marvel of nature. Exposure. And lots of talk. ☺
Ask and it shall be answered– the children love when we ask them questions. It helps them remember what they read and they love being in a position to tell us “what they know”. Our little show offs ☺
The backbone of all this conscious or otherwise cognitive development is specialized Nutrition. We provide the right start with Folic acid and that journey in nutrition must continue for our little smarties. Since 90% of brain development happens before the age of 6, it is important to provide essential nutrients like DHA that help in this development. Unlike the other steps like reading or talking that may or may not be conscious, nutritious food is definitely a conscious step towards healthy cognitive development. Meals are planned, types of food and combinations are well thought off, junk is limited and good eating habits are encouraged. All this in the hope that it will further bolster their brainpower and get those neurons fired up and ready to soak in all that the world has to offer.
Time to PARENT (Puzzles Ask Read Exposure Nutrition Talk)
Picture courtesy: http://www.growupreading.org/graphics/ctd_6design.gif