Most parents would be happy to help their child improve their memory – even if it’s just so they can remember where they left their shoes or put down their coats. Even if your child has moved beyond answering “I forget” to every question you ask them, there are a number of ways for parents to help their child improve both memory and problem solving skills. The following are just a few examples of games that families can use to practice and improve memory and cognition – all without using electronics.
- Category competition. Have fun as a family playing category competition. Gather enough pencils and papers for every player, as well as a timer. One player at a time picks a category, such as “colors”, “farm animals”, or “green foods”; players have until the timer runs out to list as many items as they can in the category.
- 20 questions. Most of us may remember this classic game from childhood. What few remember, however, is that it is a fun and engaging way to practice both memory and problem solving skills. The first person thinks of an object while the second person can ask no more than 20 yes or no questions to figure out what it is.
- I’m going on a picnic. Ideal for road trips, this progressive memory game challenges players to remember items in a list. The first player begins by saying, “I’m going on a picnic and I’m taking…” before adding their item, such as bread. The next player would say, “I’m going on a picnic and I’m taking bread and …” before listing their own choice. This continues until a player can no longer remember the list! Make the game even more challenging by choosing items in alphabetical order such as apples, bananas, cherries, etc.
- Multisensory learning. Make studying spelling words or math facts feel more like play with multisensory learning. Processing information in multiple ways can help move it from working memory to long-term memory. When studying terms for a test, for example, try writing down the definitions, spelling them out loud, or tossing a ball back and forth while reading them.
- Name game. Assign one person as the clue giver; the clue giver comes up with an object, as well as five clues. The first clue should be abstract or vague with each subsequent clue getting more specific; the player who guesses the object correctly first gets to be the next clue giver. For the answer “banana,” for example, the first clue might be “edible” followed by “fruit,” “inedible peel,” “grown in bunches,” and “yellow.”
Language and communication skills are important building blocks for young children. Not only do they ensure their ideas and thoughts can be understood by others, but they allow children to build self-confidence as they share and make friends.
While some children are naturally outgoing and communicative, others need practice to develop these skills. The following games will help children develop their language and communication skills through fun, engaging, and interactive play.
1. Identify the object. Pick an object and take turns offering descriptions and clues to the other person. “It is long and skinny. We use it to sweep the floor” could be clues for a broom. “It’s brown and sweet. Your favorite kind is Hershey’s” could be used to describe chocolate.
2. Presentation. Just like adults, many children fear being on stage speaking as the center of attention. To get over this fear, have your child create and perform a presentation. It can be as simple as describing a recent happy memory, singing a song, reciting a poem, or more. If your child feels comfortable presenting to your family, find out if they can present to a small group at your local church, senior center, or retirement home.
3. What’s going on in the picture? This no-cost game can be played virtually anywhere. Ask children to describe in detail what they see in a picture illustration. Focus on details such as the scenery, colors, shapes, people, and more; for older children, have them create stories based solely on what they can see in the picture.
4. Emotional charades. Emotional charades is a fun and easy game that can be played in large groups or with as few as two people. Make cards with different emotions written on them such as sleepy, happy, excited, sad, or more; players can take turns drawing a card and acting out the correct emotion.
5. Pretend play. Actively using their imaginations is a great way to help children develop language and communication skills. Pretend play, such as playing house or using a play kitchen, is a great way to learn new words. Likewise, pretend play is an important part of learning how to play and cooperate with peers and classmates.
Teacher appreciation week is May 1-5, and it gives parents the opportunity to thank their children’s teachers for the hard work and dedication they show all year long. This year, show your thanks and appreciation with these simple and creative ideas.
1. Send in breakfast. Sending breakfast to school one morning is an easy way to say “thanks.” Kids will love the opportunity to pick out muffins, bagels, or doughnuts for their favorite teachers. To make an even bigger impact, get a group of parents to chip in to buy breakfast for the whole staff!
2. Collect their favorite things. Create a personalized gift basket for your child’s teacher by curating their favorite things for them! Include a favorite soda or drink, salty snack, sweet treat, or even a gift card to their favorite restaurant.
3. Restock their classroom supply closet. By the end of the year, many teachers are running low on staples such as crayons, glue, pencils, and even copy paper. For the extra creative parent, create atiered “cake” using layers of supplies; this beautiful and practical gift is sure to wow your child’s teacher!
4. Take over their duties. Many teachers have recess, lunch room, or before and after school duties in addition to their regular school day. Find out if you can take over a few of their additional duties one day. Teachers will appreciate the extra time to themselves! Likewise, volunteering time in the classroom is another way to provide greatly appreciated support to most teachers – as well as spend additional time with your child.
5. Hand write a note. While gift cards and candy jars are always appreciated, handwritten letters and cards stand the test of time. Thank you notes don’t just have to be written by children; take a few minutes to sit down and write a short letter to your child’s teacher, expressing your appreciation at how much your child has learned and grown.