I must admit, I do stick to the recommended 30 minutes (at least) of mental and physical activity every day even before lockdown. I could, if I were time savvy, do both together and listen to an audio book (memory booster) while working out but I find listening to a story slows me down while upbeat music helps me speed up.
Teachers like me understand how important memory is for children – they are introduced to new, abstract concepts that require them to store information in both their short- and long-term memories – letter sounds, sight words, multiplication tables, historic dates, the periodic table and so on. Which makes memory skills pretty important in the scheme of things!
The article I read suggested people (adults & children) use the many Apps available for Brain workouts; Cognifit being a popular one and playing video games as they also have benefits (it said) for improving processing speed and concentration. But what popped into my memory were the more traditional games. Games which require us to stop, focus, think, plan and remember - all great skills that we need to use every single day.
With this in mind, why not, as a family, try turning off your TV, smartphone, computer and games consoles for 30 minutes a day and play some of these TOP FIVE TRADITIONAL GAMES to help s-t-r-e-t-c-h your family’s brains and keep your brains super healthy?
As an added bonus, you can also learn how to train your brain and increase concentration with some TOP TIPS from memory experts – what’s not to like?
TOP FIVE TRADITIONAL GAMES
- Number 1 is puzzles like crosswords and Suduko as they can both improve your brain function. Throw a few jigsaw puzzles into the mix and you get a thorough brain workout! Not only that but these activities also help the body to produce endorphins – you’ll feel a sense of satisfaction and happiness when you have finally completed the whole jigsaw, or the whole puzzle.
Finding yourself daydreaming? Have a Doodle!
In memory tests, doodlers performed 29% better than non-doodlers when asked to recall names and places, researchers found. Experts say doodling doesn’t tax the mind and allows us to concentrate on the task in hand. It stops us daydreaming, too, which is distracting.
- Number 2 is the Pairs Game which involves spreading picture cards out and taking turns to find matching pairs and Kims Game. Playing Kim’s Game is particularly good for developing your child´s memory skills and focus – both skills useful for all learning.
What is Kim’s game? I hear you ask…..
1. Put 10 things from around the house on a tray - it could be things like a pencil, an orange, some cotton wool, a toy etc. Ask your child to look carefully at them for about 30 seconds. Then take the tray away and ask them to call out what they remember.
2. Another way of playing the game is to cover the things, take one thing away and ask your child to spot what is missing. You can put more things on the tray as they get better.
Did you know that the name of the game comes from Rudyard Kipling's story "Kim?” The character Kim plays this game as part of his training as a spy!
Fed up with your child winning all the games? Clench your fist! (not at them)
Yes, who would have thought? Research suggests that balling up your right hand and squeezing it tightly actually makes it easier to memorise objects, numbers and lists. Later, when you want to retrieve the information, clench the left fist. Experts think the movements activate the parts of the brain for storing and recalling of memories.
- Number 3 is a good old game of Scrabble which can boost memory power and also increase your child’s IQ. You might like to tuck into some walnuts, avocados or chocolate (yes!) while playing as these are all meant to improve processing speed and concentration.
Finding it hard to concentrate? Little kitty can help!
Experts say that looking at cute images of baby animals doesn’t’ just make you feel warm and fuzzy inside but can actually help your brain to concentrate (really?). Researchers at Hiroshima University in Japan split 132 students into three groups and gave each one tasks such as playing the game Operation. After one attempt, they spent several minutes looking at cute pictures of kittens or puppies and did it again. Performance scores improved by an average of 44%!
- Number 4 is a game of Chess which can give your brain a serious workout as the game targets every part of your brain. If Chess is too taxing for you, then try playing Number 5 - Draughts which improves memory and also visual processing (information taken in through your eyes).
Finding your opponent is on a winning streak? Wiggle your eyes!
Wiggling your eyes from side to side for 30 seconds could be the key to boosting your concentration (experts again). That’s because the left and right sides of the brain perform different functions and improving communication between them can boost mental performance. You could also ask your opponent to try it out and while they have their eyes off the game (and looking rather silly), you can seize the moment and take your sneaky move.
Helping your child to revise for an exam (not this year)? Try bedtime cramming!
“The best way to ‘consolidate a memory’ is to go through the information just before going to sleep,” explains Dr Johnson (one of those experts). “This is because there are fewer ‘new’ interfering memories so you will remember it better the next day.”
DEFINITELY THE LAST ONE!...
Lost your marbles? Say it out loud!
This is the easiest of all methods for remembering everything from where you put your car keys to what you need from the shop to revising for a test, say those (all knowing) memory experts. Studies found saying what you want to remember out loud to yourself – or even mouthing it – will help with recall.