Every Indian parent’s dream is to be able to see a 90% + entry against every subject on the report cards of their wards- nothing less will suffice. I noticed that my neighbour’s children had suddenly stopped cycling and playing on the street outside our gate, which they used to do until they were in the 3rd or 4th grades.
Surprised and curious, I came to know upon enquiry that they had to remain indoors after school to complete homework, and then say their prayers, and probably watch television until bed time.
Rather than harp constantly on the > 90% marks, it’s more important to make sure that children develop their cognitive abilities in a stress-free manner. Right from infancy, we continue to develop a set of abilities, skills and mental processes that we use to carry out the simplest to the most complex of tasks. Cognition is all about how we perceive things around us, understand them and act, in our everyday life.
How children pay attention, learn, remember, and solve problems, is critical to how effective they will be whether in academics or in other pursuits. So how do we make sure that they stay on track?
When children play outdoors, it does their health a world of good. Alongside this, they learn a number of life skills like sharing, teamwork, competitiveness and so on. In much the same way, if they are to have razor sharp brains, the best way is to just keep on using them!
Most parents don’t realise that watching television is passive while reading is active. Very few people these days read anything except under duress which means nothing beyond their text books. Reading stimulates the imagination, sharpens the mind and makes learning a lot easier through sheer practice, besides expanding one’s horizons.
Keep the mind active
Games, Sudoku, crossword puzzles, quizzes, and other mentally challenging activities make us sharper by the day. By playing these mind games, we are adding more connections to our neural networks. Both children and adults can benefit from these.
Like everything else, developing a good memory comes through practice. Telling yourself that it’s important to remember certain things you have to do (today, this week, or whenever) or things to carry for your upcoming travel, etc., will help you to improve your memory. For instance, if you have to buy things for your house, commit the items to your memory (if they are 5 or less) rather than depend on a written list.
Drinking enough water is another way to keep oneself both physically and mentally alert and active.
Avoid getting stressed
Many of us tend to get into a worst-case-scenario mode, or else we are busy complaining that we are over-worked with no one to share the burden. Indulging in such negative-thinking patterns can become a habit – we have to fight it & get on with doing what we have to. Vocalising such thoughts can also have an adverse impact on children, who will in turn get conditioned by our behavior. It’s well known that stress affects productivity and well-being, so one has to develop positive thinking patterns to keep stress away.
Sleep is all important
Although it has become the practice for young people to stay up late & wake up late, this works against nature. The sun which is the giver of all energy plays a vital part in our health and well-being. If you’re really serious about your family’s well-being, children as well as adults must get into the habit of waking up early and going to bed at a reasonable hour so that you get 7 to 8 hours of complete rest.