You cannot start playing too soon with your children. When you play “peekaboo” with an infant, you are doing it to see their surprised expression and smile when it sees your face again. But what is going on in your child’s brain when you play peekaboo? The phrase “out of sight, out of mind” is totally true with a baby. If it can’t see your face, you might as well have left the building. The baby’s brain is trying to make sense of the napkin or towel you put over your face. The baby wonders, “What is that?” “Where did Mommy go?” “Is this thing going to feed me now?” It is less scary if they hear your voice, saying, “Where is Mommy?” or “Where’s Daddy?” while you are hiding, but it is still really surprising to a baby when it can see the face it recognizes again.
It will only be a few months until your baby will start repeating your actions and playing peekaboo back with you. Ita brains learned how to do something that makes you smile. The arms and muscles learned how to hold a napkin and put it over its eyes. Its brain grew the connections to be able to do that. The child’s brain learned how to solve the problem of not being able to see you by moving the thing that covered its eyes.
Copying what you do is a primary teaching tool that parents have with them all the time. That is why you have to watch your language and watch the TV shows you think they are not watching (but subconsciously, they are). You also need to monitor your attitude in the way you interact with children. Sarcasm and impatience are both responses that children can learn from you, but so is patience and empathy. Think about it. What are you teaching your child’s brain to do?
Here is a really good baby toy that helps your toddler repeat a 2D image in three dimensions. It isn’t always easy to find, but it is worth it if you get it.
The older your child gets, the different kids of games they can play to improve their memory, their math skills, their eye hand coordination, and their ability to make decisions and follow directions. Unlike the others, making decisions is a prefrontal cortex thing. It has to be developed and organized for children to understand consequences, and learn how to make decisions. Chess is that kind of game. Here is a couple of chess games for different ages:
5-8 year olds
Older kids can pick from many different theme chess games, like this Star Wars set:
Playing games helps your child’s brain organize itself so that it can problem solve, plan, and make decisions. Why is that important? Because brain science proves that if the prefrontal cortex is not well developed to plan and problem-solve, it is unlikely to be able to understand consequences or be able to predict. Reuven Feuerstein believed that intelligence could be modified. Google that name, or you can read about his work in cognitive psychology here:
He would tell you I am right. Play games. Change your child’s brain.