Why do people go to the gym? We weren’t born with dumbbells in our hands or treadmills under our feet but scientists recommend exercising every day. The answer is because our daily life does not include the range of physical activity required to keep us fit and healthy.
The same reasoning applies to our mental fitness and studying. Mental fitness cannot solely be improved doing school work alone. Research indicates that a well-rounded mentality requires activities that stimulate other parts of the brain. Here are some benefits for hitting the mental gym and how they can’t be improved on school work alone:
Logical Thinking: Students have been taught to solve problems, such as a math equation, in a certain way. They’ve been taught to use a specific formula and apply it to different sets of questions. It comes to a point where the student no longer has to think of a problem, but remember which equation to use. This leaves very little room for a child to organize their thoughts and think logically on a new problem.
Creativity: Aside from not stimulating logical thinking, having been taught to perform repetitive tasks limits a child’s creativity. Rather than coming up with a new method to solving a problem, students are required to answer the method that was taught to them in class.
Thinking ahead: In class, word problems are order in a strict manner. To answer a problem, a child will have to use their solution from the previous question. Homework teaches kids how to solve the problem in front of them. It does not let students to plan out the best course of action to solving a problem.
Many games that require a player to think critically allows for brain development. Here are some games that parents can play with their kids:
Chess: A two player game that requires a child to think logically of their next move. Being able to plan ahead and plan strategies creatively to catch your opponent off guard are some of the main paths to victory.
Sudoku: A single player game that can be played with other players helping you out. Sudoku consists of a series of numbers from 1-9 that must be arranged in a logical order. It could be frustrating at first but practicing Sudoku teaches patience, critical thinking, and focus that are not developed by going to school.
Nonogram: A puzzle game that is popular in many European countries, nonogram takes the style of Sudoku and arranges in a way that requires the player to create an image. Parents can team up with their child as they figure out patterns and spatial sense to colour in a number filled board to create a picture. Nonograms range in difficulty and can be solved in a matter of seconds to a matter of days.
Jig-Saw Puzzle: A simple puzzle could stimulate the brain in ways a math equation can’t. Working out a jig-saw puzzle requires puzzle solvers to think of the big picture. Their memory and their attention to detail are key to solving a puzzle of any size. Parents and child could spend as little as five minutes a day developing skills that kids will use their whole life.
Matching Cards: Not all games that boost brain activity require complicated strategy. Using something as simple as a deck of cards and laying them face down in front a child to match pairs help to improve mentality as well. Turning cards face up two at a time help to improve memory and identification of colour, shapes and numbers. The beauty of this activity is that kids can start playing at an early age and move onto more complicated games as they grow up.
There are other activities that exist. Most games that require strategy can be used to improve brain activity. It is important to note that a child could play any of these games alone, but would learn much quicker if they enjoy it with a parent or sibling.