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Everyone wants their
children to grow up smart, but Montessori daycare is out of reach for many
families. Luckily, there are a ton of great, easy brain boosters than anyone
can practice at home. Here are just a few:
The Shell Game
Studies have shown that babies as old as three
months can recognize how many of something there are, an important stepping
stone to doing math. One way to train this ability, as well as visual tracking,
is to play the shell game with them. Start with two cups and one toy, and
simply swap them once, and increase the difficulty from there. If your baby
doesn't get it at first, practice playing peekaboo with the toy and cup, and
come back to it next week. It'll click before you know it!
Between the ages of six months to a year, your
little one will slowly develop the ability to match categories, but may not be
ready for shapes and more abstract concepts. One fun, easy and cheap way to
practice this skill is to get paint samples in colors that match his or her
toys, and practice putting matching colors together.
Play the Radio
Recent research has shown that babies who
listen to spoken radio programming passively absorb language, even if it's a
foreign language. So rather than having the same simple conversations with them
over and over and over (and over) again to practice vocabulary, consider letting
them play with toys while listening to NPR or your favorite radio
Explore New Environments
Baby brains are actively mapping everything
around them, and while it may be tempting to go to the same comfortable places
every day, taking your baby exploring will allow them to encounter new
situations, build neural pathways while mapping them, and build greater confidence
and curiosity. Take a different route on your walk, stroll through some extra
aisles at the grocery store, or let Baby safely explore the basement while
you're doing laundry. Whenever possible, try to take Baby to the park: Studies
have shown that being around nature increases relaxation, and the up-and-down
motion of walking on uneven terrain has also been suggested to boost the
development of little brains.
Not only will the kid be introduced to new flavors and textures, but will also practice identifying shapes, colors and textures.
Recent studies have shown that picky eaters are
more likely to suffer depression as adults, so developing diverse tastes at an
early age is critical. One great way to train your child's tastebuds is simply
to offer a variety of foods. One way to introduce them to new foods is to
sprinkle a small sampling of new foods on their plate, along with old
favorites. Blueberries, salmon and sweet potatoes, for instance. Not only will
the kid be introduced to new flavors and textures, but will also
practice identifying shapes, colors and textures.
Baby Sign Language
Babies can formulate ideas long before they can
express them verbally, and some studies have suggested that teaching them
simple sign language commands can increase their IQ over a lifetime. Start with
simple commands such as "more," "all done," "play" and "eat."
In line with sign language, your child will be
able to register simple commands, such as picking something up, throwing
things and putting things away. Much like training a dog, you teach your baby
one new skill at a time: Start by saying the command (it's critical that this
is simple and consistent, or else Baby will get confused), demonstrating the
skill and then helping Baby do the skill. This will help them develop
awareness of their own bodies, the space around them and critical language