[Image Credit: @emma.leigh.r via Moov Baby ]
Its that time of year again, Christmas is upon us and we are making our lists and checking them twice. Because there is not enough stress on which toy or game is the latest trend, ensuring that it is also the best toy/game to enrich your child’s brain can make the decision process even harder.
Our children’s brains develop at an exponential rate over the first 5 years of life; which is governed majorly by experiences. What you may not know is that the brain is not just one organ, but two sides that are joined together by an intricate ‘highway’ of connections allowing both sides to talk to one another.
Knowing and understanding how the two sides of the brain works, can make it easier to help support the growth of each side and help your children learn to make them work together.
Your left side allows you to think logically and organise things, whilst your right brain is what helps you to feel and read body language. More interestingly, did you know that it is your right brain that moves your left body and vice versa?!?
What is important to help the different parts of the brain to work at their best, is to help ‘integrate’ them. This is where both sides work together as one.
You can help your child’s left and right brain work together to integrate by simply encouraging your child to play encouraging activities that require the use of both sides of the body.
This can be as simple as encouraging;
- Swimming - encouraging breathing on both sides
- Running with opposite swinging arms
- Crawling games
- Monkey Bars
- Climbing 'Pikler' triangles (like Moov Baby)
- Riding a bike - particularly learning to ride in
circles each way!
- Balancing on a Wobble/Balance Board
Other fantastic activities that are usually one sided but can be challenging when used for bilateral play include;
- Riding scooters – and switching legs often
- Playing basketball – and bouncing & shooting the ball with each hand
- Playing handball – using both sides of the body to lean and bounce
- Playing soccer – and building skills on both sides of the body.
We all develop hand, eye, ear and foot dominance usually by age 3 years, however, neurologically we want to challenge the brain to grow and develop skills both ways. Remember, we know research indicates that "it’s less about the toys we play with but the experiences we have as a family".
So think of these ‘challenges’ and forms of creative fun and play. It’s also good for your brain too! Make it hard, make it tricky, be silly and enjoy.
Your brain will love you for it and it will be a Christmas to remember.