The first few years of life are critical for brain development. During infancy and early childhood, our experiences of the world form neural pathways at a rapid-fire rate. In this stage of heightened development, therefore, it is especially important for infants and young children to be exposed to a variety of physical and visual stimulants to form those neural connections that they will continue to use growing up.

A great way to help kids develop is by stimulating their minds with brain games. The importance of fun should never be underestimated when it comes to learning. By creating and playing fun, mental games for your children, their engagement will expand their minds and help them learn.

There are all kinds of brain games for kids that activate thinking in children at a variety of ages. Keep reading to find out some of the best.

Tactile Games

Toy Blocks

They may be simple, but you shouldn’t underestimate the importance of playing with blocks in your child’s development. By playing block games at an early age, young toddlers are able to establish spatial skills that will go on to influence their problem-solving and math skills. Think about it—while playing with blocks, children are not only getting that tactile sensation, they are also learning what happens when you stack them, how the different blocks fit together, what designs are best. Toy blocks are really the building blocks of early mental development.

Legos

Toy blocks are great, but let’s face it: eventually, kids reach a point where they need to go beyond the standardized cubes and triangles. That’s where Legos come in. Lego’s are essentially the next iteration in block games, coming in wider variety of sizes and with a whole new set of possibilities. Playing with Legos will further enhance your child’s spatial awareness and creativity.

 

Visual and Social Games

Visual and Social Games
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Image via BoardGameGeek

I Spy Games

Playing I Spy games with your child is a great way for them to sharpen their visual and observational skills. Not only does the game make children pay attention to the details of what is around them, it also forces them to compare items and critically think about them.

While this type of game can be played alone in the form of the I Spy books along with Where’s Waldo?, it can also be used as a social game. In playing with other people, children listen to auditory cues and translate them into their visual environment. This can be a great way to help your child develop language, as they pair the descriptors they hear with objects in the real world.

Simon Says

This is a great example of a social game. Not only does it require the presence and participation of others, it also requires spoken and auditory language and instruction-following skills. This cooperative game is great for engaging the mind and honing focus while at the same time engaging the body and getting a little bit of physical exercise into it.

Puzzles

Puzzles, and puzzle games, are such a great way to learn and expand the mind at any age. Because puzzles can always increase in difficulty level, there is no age where puzzle-solving stops being fun and challenging.

One of the reasons puzzles are so great is because they engage both sides of the brain. This leads to good problem solving and math skills. As far as traditional puzzles go, these are highly visual but also combines this with the tactile, as the puzzle-solver places each connects with piece with their hands.

Other types of puzzles are great, too! This can include crosswords and word searches, which help develop language skills, as well as more tactile puzzles such as the Rubik’s cube.

Whatever the type, puzzles are one of the most diverse and best type of brain games that activate thinking in a child!

 

Physical Games

Physical Games
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Image via Daily 49er

Sports

Encourage your children athletically—sports form a great way for your child to stay healthy and develop both mentally and socially. In maintaining overall mental health, physical health is an essential. Healthy body, healthy mind, after all.

Playing sports not only encourages social development, it also stimulates your child’s mind by putting them in problem-solving scenarios where they are forced to think quickly in the heat of the game or competition.

Obstacle Courses

Obstacle courses are another great way for your kids to engage their body and mind. In going through an obstacle course, children not only get that physical exertion, they also are also made to critically think about how to get through the course, hone their visual skills, and spatially determine how to proceed. Not to mention, obstacle courses are fun!

For smaller children, you can easily set up an obstacle course around your home using furniture and other stuff you have lying around the house. It may be more difficult to do this on your own once your children start getting bigger, so keep an eye out for events being put on in your area or suggest the idea to your child’s school so they can continue to have this fun learning experience.

Have Fun!

Playing these games with your kids can be just as fun for you, too. Cheer them on as they complete that obstacle course, encourage them to figure out a tough puzzle game while you do your own, actively participate in games of I Spy and Simon Says and see if they can stump you. All these brain games are not only a way to activate thinking in your children, but also an opportunity to spend time and learn with them.

Feature image via mcguirechristiancounseling.com

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