Cognitive skills are among the skills that are crucial when it comes to guaranteeing children’s academic success. Cognitive skills are brain-based and include skills such as comprehension, memory, attention/concentration, speech, reading, logic, and many more.
Through various sciences and disciplines, from cognitive-behavioral theory, through neuroscience, to endocrinology, it has been established that nourishing and encouraging cognitive abilities through a variety of daily habits, exercises, and activities can significantly enhance the brain’s functions, as well as its neuroplasticity, i.e., its ability to adjust to new circumstances, which lasts until the age of 25.
How to boost school children’s cognitive skills
Read on to see several key tips for enhancing your children’s cognitive skills. Implementing these tips will enable your children to exceed others’ expectations based on the children’s earlier results and their “predispositions” and equip them for outstanding achievements at school and later in life.
As the quality of life grows and technology keeps facilitating numerous aspects of daily living, children sometimes lose the sense of the importance of – and even the reasons for – engaging in any physical activity, which distanced oneself from one’s evolutional physical need – the need for movement. The physiological need for moving to preserve one’s health (both physical and cognitive) is the result of thousands of years during which our ancestors simply had to be physically active to survive – through hunting animals, gathering plants, or agriculture. One of the key factors of the onset of depression, which involves low serotonin levels (a hormone also involved in learning and memory), is the absence or insufficiency of physical activity.
It is truly a challenge to motivate the young to move; the generally accepted and almost universally successful way to get them moving and therefore help them meet this physiological, evolutional need for movement is, of course, sport.
Physical activity can be viewed as oil that helps the “machine” – in this case, the entire organism – run smoothly, especially the brain. The crucial benefits of physical activity for the brain include:
- Stimulating the growth of new connections among brain cells and different parts of the brain, which facilitates the storing of information
- Improved blood flow to the brain, which facilitates cognition thanks to the higher level of oxygen
- Regulating the daily mood through stimulating the hormones endorphin, dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin (which is directly related to learning and memory)
The saying “What you eat is what you are/become” has a solid basis in reality. Nutrition can be viewed as fuel for the organism. One cannot reasonably expect a child to achieve excellent results at school if said child eats food that is low on vitamins, proteins and fats, and rich in carbs and sugar.
Therefore, their diet should include food rich in healthy proteins, vitamins, primarily B6 and B12 – through meat or certain stone fruits and vegetables, as well as Omega-3 fatty acids, essential for efficient memorization in learning, as well as performing logical tasks, present in seafood, stone fruits, and seeds.
The average human capacity for remembering information is surprisingly limited (7 to 9 random single-digit numbers), especially if said information conveys no meaningful message. However, introducing associations or some meaning can drastically improve the ability to remember, which can significantly help rote learning for a test.
The book Neuroscience mentions research in which students who had spent an hour a day for several months learning random numbers managed to repeat a sequence of 80 digits by remembering subsequences of numbers through dates that bore personal importance to them (Purves, D. & Williams, S. Mark. (2001). Neuroscience. 2nd edition. Sinauer Associates). So, try to practice this approach to learning with your child and observe their cognitive skill of remembering swiftly develop.
Digital technologies have drastically accelerated our daily tasks and facilitated the discovery of new human callings and potentials. However, with digital technologies and their companion’s social networks, young people’s lives – especially the lives of Gen Z – have also been marked by a record decline in attention span, which plummeted to about 8 seconds.
For your child to strengthen their cognitive skill of attention, there need to be periods when they do not consume social networks and content that is “easy to digest,” which constitute the primary cause of the dispersion of young persons’ attention. The beginning is sure to be a challenge for the children. They have become immersed in multitasking; however, after a while, they will see their grades improving and perceive how much more productive they are when they concentrate on a single task.