Bright Beginnings Preschool

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 Some pratical ways to build brain power in a child.

The use of aromas.  Make cinnamon rolls, lemonade, scented playdough.  Use scented markers.  Add cooking extracts to tempera paint.  Play florist.  Fill beanbags with herbs.

The use of choices.  Use sentence structures that suggest choices.  Keep the number of choices to three.  Help children recognize there are consequences to the choices they make.  Encourage children to make their own choices.  Involve children in decision-making activities.

The use of color.  Put calming colors in quiet areas.  Choose colors for painting depending on moods.  Use colored markers and colored pencils for drawing and writing.  Discuss moods of colors.  Discuss color-related phrases such as blue Monday. 

The use of mind and body.  Read books about lunar and solar cycles.  Use the time from 5:00 pm to 7:00 p.m. to enhance relationships. Teach children to be aware of their biological rhythms.  Encourage them to count breaths and blinks. Make sure they get adequate rest. Teach things that require paying attention to detail. 

The use of emotions.  Discuss values of feelings.  Sing throughout the day.  Help them see the need for what they are learning.  Add surprises.  Let them know you care.  Express your emotions openly. Teach stress-relaxation.

The use of exercise.  Use music and movement every day. Teach about health and fitness. Play left/right games. Model exercising.  Encourage children to participate in dance classes or athletic activities. Create an exercise program. 

The use of cross-lateral movements.  Start each day with exercise that requires cross-lateral movements such as twisting at the waist, touching toes, etc. Make up hand-jives.  Play waltz music. Dance using streamers and scarves. Play songs that focus on body movements.

The use of hydration.  Model drinking water.  Take scheduled water breaks. Let children have water when they ask. Discuss how water helps our brains work better. Demonstate the effect of water on plants.

The use of laughter.  Sing silly songs.  Read humorous books.  Support and encourage children's natural clowning around. Laugh at children's attempts to be funny.  Laugh at yourself. Share simple jokes. Use humor. Share stories about funny things. Keep the atmosphere light.

The use of music. Sing a song to start off the day.  Provide musical instruments. Listen to a variety of music. Provide books based on songs. Play music tapes in the car. Model a love for music. Use songs for transitions. Roll a ball to music.  Encourage sing-alongs.

The use of novelty.  Rearrange toys and equipment every so often.  Rotate toys. Color on paper taped under a table or to a window.  Try working backwards one day.  Create new verses to songs. Try reading a book backwards. Encourage children to sleep at the opposite end of their beds.  Have pancakes for dinner.   Baked potato for breakfast.

The use of nutrition.  Offer snacks that balance protein with complex carbohydrates. Set a good example.  Teach about nutrition.  Try your own experiment.  Plan weekly menus with the children.  Be sure children eat breakfast.  Breakfast starts the brain and the body working.

The use of patterns.  Look for visual patterns in the environment.  Make sure children have many experiences that teach likenesses and differences.  Read books that have repetitive pattern.  Find patterns in numbers such as odd and even.  Sing songs that have a pattern such as "This Old Man", "Head and Shoulders." Make up simple dances that are repetitive.  Listen to classical music and listen for patterns.  Create clapping patterns.  Discuss patterns of the body - in and out motion of breathing.  Observe patterns in the weather. Play commercial games such as Simon Says or Bop-it.  Identify patterns in clothing.

The use of practice.  Encourage them to try, try again.   Offer information in small doses and increase the amount as children show understanding.  Teach the value of persistence and determination.  When teaching a skill, model the activity first.  Offer feedback in a positive, helpful manner.  Help children feel good about the small improvements.  Don't overload children's schedules.

The use of problem solving.  Read stories that present problems.  Ask questions that allow children to use higher level thinking skills.  Ask "what if" questions.  Provide activities that require exercising judgment.  For example, "Do you think all of these marbles will fit in the jar?"  Model problem solving.  Teach riddles and introduce brain teasers.  When children ask "why" questions, encourage them to think through the possible answers. 

The use of praise and rewards.  Reduce the amount of praise you provide; replace it with feedback.  For example, instead of,  "That's a great painting."  You might say, "The red and yellow colors you used for the trees help create a fall look to your painting."  Help children evaluate their own efforts.  Use encouragement instead of praise.  Focus on process as opposed to product.  Be careful not to set children up for failure.  "You are always so nice."  You leave them open to failure.  No one is nice all the time.  Use a natural voice when offering support to children.  Be specific and sincere.  Children recognize and generally ignore stock phrases such as "good job", "terrific work" and "very good."  Invite children to select their own rewards. Avoid promising concrete rewards for appropriate behaviors.  Help children feel good about their appropriate behaviors.  Children earn and lose privileges.  We are all entitled to food, shelter, and education.  Everything else is a privilege that is earned and can be lost when behavior warrants.

The use of second language.  Teach it to children in an organized fashion.  Teach simple words such as numbers, colors, etc.  Show videos in a foreign language.  Go to fairs that focus on different cultures.  Play songs with lyrics in foreign languages. 

The use of small muscles.   Do fingerplays everyday.  Use clapping and dancing activities. Encourage children to do puzzles, collect small items on nature walks.  Encourage water play to exercise small muscles such as eyedroppers, sponges, or basters.  Use tweezers or clothespins to pick up small items.  Do finger painting.  Invite children to tear paper into various shapes.  Provide play dough with pipe cleaners, buttons, cookie cutters encouraging them to work with finger muscles.  Encourage them to use a typewriter.  Shell peas or peanuts.  Try eating with chopsticks.  Bake bread and knead the dough.

 

Providing the brain power boosters will give a child the best foundation for future learning.