How to raise a child’s mental ability through activities at home or outside of school?
A child is like a raw product that requires a shape and a direction, to convert into something useful. Jean Piaget, a Swiss developmental psychologist, described children to be like “little scientists”, he gave the four-stage theory of intellectual development of children and believed every child to pass through these stages while understanding and making sense of the world around them. By referring to children as scientists it can be understood that just like the ‘grown-up scientists’ – children observe and experiment continuously with their environment and develop their perceptions. A child’s mind keeps expanding, storing, grasping and soaking its environment. The process of mental development in a child starts right from its birth, when he begins to recognize his needs of hunger, sleep and this process continues to expand, further rapidly with age, making learning more elaborate. Lewis Terman yet another renowned psychologist proposed the role of both nature and nurture on the intelligence level of a child. According to Terman, “Heredity plays a large role in determining intelligence, but the environment is also important in fostering the innate intellectual ability.” In other words, innate intellect when explored rightly to its potential with the environment will yield the best results.
When we talk about the environment, the first external environment a child is exposed to is his immediate home and the very first people responsible for influencing a child’s mind are his parents. A positive, peaceful environment is the first requirement that will have an everlasting impact on a child’s mental development. The parents need to understand that the things they expect their children to learn are the things they need to do themselves. Children are like monkeys, they like imitating the elders, so if a child observes things like patience, kindness, and is treated with love and care the probability is that he would form a personality inclusive of all these things and hence his capacity to learn would be better and faster than the child who is not exposed to a positive external environment. Children are full of creativity and imagination; the only thing they require is to know the way to put this creativity and imagination to use that will enhance their mental capacities. Treating them like adults and respecting their ideas and views will enhance their self-efficacy; teaching them to challenge themselves at different levels in their lives would help them achieve better and gain self-confidence. A healthy lifestyle, right eating habits, physical activities are yet other important factors to develop a healthy and sound mind. Encouraging a child to be a part of daily chores such as cooking, gardening can help a great deal, he can learn patience while waiting for a dish that is cooking, he can be asked to count the number of potatoes to be used in a dish thus using his brains. He can be taught different colors, while a parent is cooking like differentiating between a red bell pepper and a yellow one, furthermore involving a child while gardening can make him love and respect nature. He can be taught to feel the process of growth of human beings with food, water, etc. which can motivate eating. The definition of failure should be explained in a very positive light. Reading, playing games like object identification, role-plays, and dual-n-back will further help them enhance their analytic skills. Physical activities are equally important; he should be encouraged to try his hands on different games which can make him more active and energetic thus relieving him of stress. Meditation should be thought of as a necessity and should be taught in every home. A child cannot meditate on his own, perhaps he cannot even understand what meditation is, and it is the responsibility of parents to teach meditation to the child. Parents can make it a rule to observe silence every day for some time with the child, which can bring peace and relax a child’s mind. His Holiness the Dalai Lama, states “The essential nature of the mind is purity” and this purity can be maintained only through practices like meditation. Meditation can help a child learn to focus and make him more attentive, granting a clear vision and ideas. Morality through practice serves a large purpose in shaping a child’s mind and keeping him away from negativity, leading to a better mental state. As Christopher Morley puts it “We call a child’s mind “small” simply by habit; perhaps it is larger than ours is, for it can take in almost anything without effort”.