Sugar and Spice Advice on Mental Calisthenics For Children

Physical exercise is great for the body and the soul at any age. Keeping the brain in top form is easy with things like reading, doing crossword puzzles or sudoko, or learning a new skill. The mind of a child is like a sponge and learning can be fun. Entertaining mental games can put their minds through some mental calisthenics. The focus should be on fun while exercising the brain, not tedium and rigor.

During dinner or family home evening, everyone takes a turn providing an uncommon word. Have everyone look up the word and then use it in everyday conversation. The English language is chock full of awesome and unusual words. Try something like loquacious, verisimilitude, or indefatigable.

Hide and seek can be modified into mental calisthenics. Hide a small toy or a book somewhere in the house. Then give cryptic clues to the hiding spot. One way to do this is drawing simple pictures on 3 x 5 cards. Give the child the first card to start with. When he/she follows the clue and finds the next card, it will lead to another clue until the child finds the hidden item.

Wrap it up with a poem or song. For example, have the child write a poem or make up a song telling how he/she spent Christmas vacation. Or maybe about the trip to Disneyland or to Grandma’s house. Using rhyme and other language forms helps a child develop better language proficiency and creativity.

Remember, the goal is to have fun!
(Some of this information is courtesy of Kaiser Permanente.)

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