Guwahati,

LTALO

THE POWER OF BRAIN GAMES

LITTLE THINGS ABOUT LITTLE ONES

Dr. Gayatri Bezboruah

 

Communicating with our children is one of the most pleasurable and rewarding experiences in life. Our children learn by absorbing information through daily interactions and experiences with other children, adults, and the world. The more interactive conversation and play our little ones are involved in, the more they learn. Reading books, singing, playing word games, and simply talking to our children will increase their vocabulary while providing increased listening opportunities. As promised last week, here are a few more interesting brain games.

Naming numbers is easy, understanding what they mean is much more difficult. A number is an abstract concept? we cannot see a 'two', we can only deduce that it represents two dogs, two cars or two bricks. That is why educationalists suggest that the teachings of maths should begin with matching and sorting games, and training children to understand the concept of colour and ownership. Gaining confidence with numbers will give the child a great headstart when it comes to more formal learning at school. We don't have to be a maths whiz ourself - keep it simple, give them lots of opportunities to play with numbers, patterns, counting and sorting.
Two is bigger than one and smaller than three. For our children, this is not as straightforward as it seems! Abstract ideas are difficult for our little ones to grasp. Measuring is one of the easiest ways to show them what numbers mean, because a ruler makes the abstract concept of numbers concrete - bigger numbers match longer lengths.
Learning all about time may take a while and a great deal of practice. Our brain contains an inbuilt clock that is set, by the daily pattern of light and dark, to a 24-hr rhythm. But while it may be possible to tell the passing of time and measure intervals using the biological clock, we still have to learn how to read the time, name the seasons and understand the passage of days, weeks and months-all of which take a great deal of practice.
Children do not rehearse what they need to remember and need our help to do so. Skills involving movement and hand-eye co-ordination are best learned by watching a skilled person, trying to remember what they did, then repeatedly practicing the activity. Explanation and feedback (praise or simply encouraging him to see for himself that something has worked) are the most important ways a caregiver can help a child to rehearse and remember. 
The cerebellum - a large convoluted area at the base of the brain -ensures that skilled movements are smooth and not jerky. It is primarily concerned with the co-ordination of skilled movements. It also plays a role in the learning and organization of new skilled movements. Cutting with scissors involves expertise in hand-eye co-ordination and children need practice at this before they finally master cutting complex shapes at around six years of age.
While some people have sponge-like memories that absorb all the information they need for the day, most of us (and specially children) need reminders about what needs to be done.
Making simple lists is one of the first ways to teach our children how to be methodical.
We need to develop interconnections between neurons to improve writing skills. When children first learn to write, each stroke of a letter is programmed separately, then each whole letter, gradually building up to the whole world. Eventually, 'networks' of neurons (brain cells) in their brain will organize all of the movements needed to write a particular word smoothly and automatically?  it is because we have such networks that we find it so difficult to restart our signature if we stop half? way through.
When colouring up to the edge of a drawing, children use careful hand-eye co-ordination. This careful 'checked out' movement is controlled by the cerebral cortex of the brain-the part that is just under the skull. Filling in the rest of the colour is best done with a flowing hand and flowing movement is controlled by the cerebellum, which is at the base of the brain. 
At first children scribble, then they see possibilities in their scribbles. Most psychologists who have studied children's drawings believe that the step from scribble to figurative drawing probably happens rather like in games they play. Children first draw or paint at random, then look at what they have done and see, in the loop of a scribble or a blob of paint, the possibility of making a face, so they add the eyes. Because it delights them-and it delights us- they do it again. Research shows that when children first add details to their drawings, they rarely count. In children's drawings, the animals may have more than four legs and the people may have more (or fewer) than five fingers.
Music can bring a new dimension to learning-whether children are listening to it or making it themselves. Games which use music in a variety of ways encourage children to stretch their imagination, recognize rhythm and dance to the beat. There is no end to the pleasure that music can bring.
Dr Gayatri Bezboruah is Professor of Paediatrics, Gauhati Medical College, Guwahati. She can be reached at [email protected] or [email protected]