10 lazy ways to intellectually stimulate your kids

Everyone says kids are like sponges. Because they’re germy and start to smell really bad unless you wash them well with hot water and soap. Also, because their little minds are growing and expanding at approximately twice the rate of the average American waistline, and that’s saying something. But before you get out the flashcards, and by “get out,” I mean “purchase for the first time,” why not see if one of these more lackadaisical approaches can serve equally well to stimulate your little one’s synaptic growth?

  1. Learn a new language. One good one is “slang from the 90’s.” Girl, that picture you drew is fly! Don’t hate on your sister, Madison. Learning that words have double meanings and that grammar is fluid can really enhance your child’s cognitive flexibility.
  2. Play tic tac toe. Yes, you can always win, but that’s the point. Always losing teaches your child humility, grace, and good sportsmanship — what?  How did you do that? Oh my God, now my four-year-old can beat me at tic tac toe. Before I had kids I was an intellectual powerhouse, I swear.
  3. Learn sign language together. Don’t worry, I’m sure you know some already. Like “Whatever” and “bye bye.” And “birdie.” Yes, I’m sure that’s “birdie.” What do you mean you Googled it and it’s “washing machine?” How depressing.
  4. Use math in real life. Yes, kids, math is super important. Like now, when I have to figure out how much money we can afford to spend on Mommy getting her hair done. It’s our monthly income minus our mortgage, minus our electric bills, minus the car repair bill, minus… you know what, let’s do science instead. Which brings us to…
  5. Baking soda and vinegar volcanos. No, I don’t know why. But I know they work because they can unclog your shower drain. There must be something you can talk about, with pressure, or gravity, or acid, I don’t know. Work with me.
  6. Create modern art. The key word is “modern.” There are no rules here, friend. Just do what you feel. Yes, two scribbles on a piece of paper is art, and it is stimulating your child’s brain like nobody’s business.
  7. Sculpt. Create a three-dimensional figure using only clay? What a wunderkind. No, dear, this thing here isn’t called “a cylinder made out of Play-Doh,” it’s called “pottery that allows your creativity to flourish without us even leaving the house, for the second day in a row.”
  8. Practice self-defense. Physical activity creates new connections in the brain and so does hand to hand combat. So stop telling on your brother for kicking the back of your seat, and go all Krav Maga on his butt. Here’s a YouTube tutorial you can watch on the iPad while I look at Pinterest on my computer.
  9. Guessing games. I’m thinking of an animal that starts with G and has a long neck. What do you mean, “turtle?” What are they teaching you in that Montessori school anyway?
  10. Geography. A cynic may just call this “Where did Mommy leave the car again?” but really it teaches map skills, geography, resilience, and grit. Especially when you’re walking around the parking lot for 25 minutes in the drizzle with a mother who is on the verge of a nervous breakdown, and you don’t even have a snack bag of Goldfish. Navy SEALS, here you come, son. Thank me later.

Samantha Rodman is the author of How to Talk to Your Kids About Your Divorce: Healthy, Effective Communication Techniques for Your Changing Family. Rodman is a licensed psychologist, founder of DrPsychMom.comand a happily married mother of three.

8 Quick Brain Teasers to Challenge Your Attention and Memory

Look­ing for some fun, and free, cog­ni­tive stim­u­la­tion this Decem­ber? Here you have a few quick brain teasers to challenge your atten­tion and your work­ing mem­ory-the abil­ity to keep infor­ma­tion in your mind while work­ing on inte­grat­ing, pro­cess­ing it.

Given them a good try…they are not as easy as they may seem.

  1. Say the days of the week back­wards, then in alpha­bet­i­cal order.
  2. Speak other lan­guages? Try doing the same in Span­ish, French, Mandarin…
  3. Say the months of the year in alpha­bet­i­cal order.
  4. Easy? Well, why don’t you try doing so back­wards, in reverse alpha­bet­i­cal order.
  5. Find the sum of your date of birth, mm/dd/yyyy.
  6. Want a tougher mind teaser? Do the same with your spouse’s or best friend’s date of birth (with­out look­ing it up…)
  7. Name two objects for every let­ter in your first name. Work up to five objects, try­ing to use dif­fer­ent items each time.
  8. Look around wher­ever you are and, within two min­utes, try to find 5 red things that will fit in your pock­ets, and 5 blue objects that are too big to fit.

I hope you have enjoyed these quick mind teasers. If you still want more, please visit SharpBrains’ page with brain teasers, brain games and illu­sions. Free, and fun for adults of any age!

Taking Naps Are Important!

What do Albert Einstein, Lady Gaga and George W. Bush have in common? Nope, not their fashion sense. The answer is …their naps. Each of these famous people is known for famously protecting their daytime dozing. Dozens of other napping notables join their ranks. Lyndon Johnson conducted presidential meetings while resting in his bed. Bill Clinton once nodded off during a Mets baseball and a memorial service for Martin Luther King Jr.

Why do we love our naps? Well, one reason is rooted in our biology. Many people’s inner clock slows between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m., also known as the “postprandial dip.” Many cultures actually honor this natural energy lull with the allowable afternoon siesta, when shops close and people doze.

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Back-to-School Red Flags

I don’t know about you, but as a mother I always worried about my child starting a new school year.  Is she going to transition into her new class well, will she be able to understand the new material, should I have worked with her over summer, and what I ask my self the most is if her first report card is going to be good?  I have had these fears ever since I can remember, and Clovis Unified being as competitive as it is, my fears only increased.  I don’t know about you other mothers but I also dreaded back to school parent-teacher conferences.  The things my daughter’s teacher would say, “she needs to study more if she wants to succeed this year,” “she is not applying herself,” and my favorite “is there anything going on at home, because your daughter seems very distracted…”  Of course my first initial reaction is to put blame on the teacher and say “if you were doing your job right, then…

But instead, I always tell the teacher we will do our best to get her on track.  Where I failed for so many years was thinking that Clovis School District had to high of standards and that the faculty were failing these children.  Then one year, i decided to read the Back-To-School Red Flags a bit differently.  I decided to be more proactive and get my daughter help outside f school.  LearningRx Fresno helped my daughter and warned me about the Back-To-School Red Flags.

As kids head back to school, LearningRx of Fresno is sharing some insider tips on the red-flag phrases and behaviors that may indicate a learning struggle.

“You don’t need to wait for the first parent-teacher conference to find out how your child is doing academically,” says LearningRx Vice President of Research & Development Tanya Mitchell. “There are clues to look for at home. For example, are they taking hours on end to complete homework? Do they regularly complain of ailments to try to get out of going to school? Do they forget what they’ve read as soon as they’ve finished reading it? Do they frequently complain that they ‘just don’t get it’?

Mitchell says these actions can hint of a learning struggle, which are usually caused by weak cognitive skills, such as slow processing speed, weak working memory or visual processing or difficulty paying attention, to name a few.

Although it’s often difficult for parents to determine if certain struggles or behaviors are just a normal part of the learning process or if they’re a more comprehensive learning issue, Mitchell says there are some phrases that hint of the latter.

For example: If the teacher says, “I know he’s smart, but …”

  • “… his work doesn’t show it.”
  • “… I can’t quite get through to him.”
  • “… he makes sloppy mistakes.”

“This is one of the most frustrating symptoms of weak cognitive skills for parents and teachers: A smart child locked inside a struggling student,” says Mitchell. “These phrases are good indicators that several cognitive skills are very strong, while others are deficient and are causing a big bottleneck of information in the brain. At LearningRx, we do an initial assessment to determine which brain skills are weak, then strengthen them with a customized personal brain training program to make a faster, more efficient learner.”

Questions About ADHD!

First off, I want to say thank you for all the emails I have been receiving from my readers.  It is a great feeling knowing that my articles are being read and people are looking to me for help.  It is what I enjoy most, helping people!

I have been asked a lot of questions about ADHD and advice.  Half of my cognitive assessment meetings are with parents looking for help with their child that has been diagnosed with ADHD. They are looking for an alternate treatment for ADHD rather than medication.  I stand behind LearningRx of Fresno to help treat child with ADHD.  Our cognitive brain training has done wonders for our clients and in some cases has helped the child stop taking medicine completely.

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My Summer Cold!

Summer colds are bad enough as it is, but when you live in Fresno…  a summer cold is unbearable.  The mixture of dry air, smoke from local fires, air pollution and temperatures in the high 90s, equals a recipe for a long miserable cold with little hope for a speedy recovery.

So I looked to the internet for some tips and I have concluded that eating the right food (mixed with piles of cough medicine and decongestants) was the solution I was looking for.

I came across this article on the CNN website.  If you or your child has ever had a summer cold, you know it is bound to happen again.  So make sure you take note of this article and be prepared for that summer cold!

Here is the article:

The worst foods to eat when you’re sick, and the best ones

 

Chocolate Improves Memory…In Snails!

Can I have a bite?

In the category of “weird news of the day,” it turns out that scientists have discovered a way to study the impact of dark chocolate on memory skills.

But not the memory skills of humans, many of whom would crawl on all fours to be chosen to eat chocolate for the advancement of science. No, the participants selected for this particular study were actually snails.

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6 Sneaky but Scientific Ways to Help Kids Learn

Hello readers, I really hope you are enjoying the articles I have been posting on my blog!  I have already received great feed back from many of you!  I was asked one question recently that really struck close to my heart.

(Concerned Parent) “Renee, how do I get my child to want to learn?”

(Me) “I had trouble getting my daughter to want to learn all throughout school, this is a common problem.  But then I realized that maybe there is a way of tricking my daughter into learning without her even knowing.  We do it all the time at LearningRx Fresno, we play brain games and through that, our clients are increasing their cognitive abilities without even knowing it.”

(Concerned Parent) “Okay how do I do that?”

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Are Daily Homework Battles Driving You Crazy?

 

 

 Here are 11 Tips to Improve the Homework Experience for You and Your Child


Does your child struggle with homework? Kids who struggle with learning can find homework frustrating and exhausting (as in “tears, excuses, and tantrums” kind of frustrating and exhausting). And of course it only makes things worse when, for struggling students, assignments meant to take twenty minutes can take up to several hours.

Whether you and your child tackle homework immediately after school or a couple hours before bedtime, this kind of recurring routine is exhausting for kids and exhausting for parents, too.

How can you improve the daily homework experience for you and your child? Try following these tips:

Prep yourself 

  • Prepare mentally- Before diving in with your child, take a few minutes to mentally prepare. Decide ahead of time what kind of attitude you’re going to embrace, and how you’re going to respond if things get tense or difficult.

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Fill Your Stomach AND Your Brain!

All natural. Organic. Cage free. Range free. You’ve read the food labels, shelled out a little extra cash for the promise of healthier options, and savored the flavor of your favorite organics. But wait. If the truth were known about wholesome-labeled foods—the 100% real, 100% pure truth—you might find yourself lowering your fork. Or at least rethinking your grocery list.

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