Recently, my daughter has taken an interest in riddles. Apparently, a group of her friends at school like to try and stump each other during recess and lunch. To help her prepare for these encounters, I have gone online looking for challenging, but kid friendly riddles. One of my personal favorites is the following:
What gets wetter and wetter the more it dries?
While looking for these riddles for my daughter, I also discovered that puzzles, brain teasers, and other mental challenges are effective brain building tools, particularly in children. There are many cognitive benefits for young people that participate in challenging mental activities including increased speed in problem solving skills.
The importance of brain stimulation was first introduced in 1964 by a researcher named Marion Diamond. Mrs. Diamond and her colleagues conducted a series of experiments on rats to determine whether the environment effects cognition. She took two different rat colonies and placed them into two different environments. The first environment was full of toys, maze challenges, and other puzzles designed to “enrich” the rat’s mental skills. The second environment was “impoverished, offering no toys and little simulation. At the end of the experiment, she tested the rats with a maze to see how the environment affects the mental capabilities of the two groups.
The researchers noted that the rats living in the “enriched” environment outperformed the rats living in the “impoverished” environment in terms of speed and problem solving skills through the maze. In addition, the rats in the stimulating environment had thicker cerebral cortices then those in the solitary environment.
As parents, this is our wake-up call! We are responsible to provide our children with an “enriched” environment that will challenge them cognitively and help them to develop faster and stronger brains. For nine months out of the year, we usually accomplish this goal with the help of teachers and educators. However, what about the other three months? What about the summer?
One way to help enrich your child’s summer is to sign them up for Brain Chase. The Brain Chase Summer Challenge is designed to be a learning experience hidden within the larger context of a treasure hunt. Within the first week, your child will realize that to unlock the next clues in the puzzle, they need to do their assignments each week. And that is when the engagement and enrichment begins.
It is important to provide children with the mental stimulation they need to develop speed in problem solving skills. Brain Chase is an excellent way to ensure this stimulation over the summer.
Oh, and for those of you that were curious to the riddle above, the answer is … A towel.