Guest Expert

Play Your Way to a Higher IQ

Contrary to popular opinion – not to mention what was once historically considered to be scientific evidence – intelligence is not fixed.

Once believed to be static, plenty of evidence now supports the idea that IQ scores are, in fact, influenced by many factors. Genetics play a significant role, of course, but so do physical, socio-economic and educational environments.

What exactly is IQ?

Simply put, it's a measure of cognitive skills.

Your child's ability (and yours) to do math, for example, is strongly based on the strength of their intelligence, or IQ. The same holds true for proficiency in reading comprehension, or any other school subject.

Examples of cognitive skills are working memory, attention, auditory processing and visual processing. When one skill is weak – such as short-term memory, which might be needed to recall a mathematical formula – the other skills can't always compensate. In other words, even if you know how to apply a math formula, that information won't help if you can't remember the formula in the first place.

In general, the stronger one's cognitive skills, the easier it is to learn and process information quickly and efficiently.

Based on exciting current research of the brain's plasticity, it is now readily accepted that people can permanently change their IQ though training.

Improvement in cognitive skills can occur through repetitive, game-type exercises, also called brain training. This type of training strengthens the mind just as exercise strengthens the body.  The more frequent and intense the training, the greater the gain in cognitive skills.

Professional cognitive training can provide significant improvements in skills such as memory, attention, auditory and visual processing. While the commitment is intense, the results can be quite dramatic.

Still, there are plenty of games that you can play at home to strengthen your child's brain skills. Summer break is a great time to try some of these, have fun, and increase your child's IQ at the same time.

One more thing: you might want to play along. Who knows, maybe your child's not the only one who could benefit from some brain training play!

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Simple Games for Home – keep it fun and playful, and increase the intensity over time.

  • Wedgits – Use these building tools, along with the accompanying pictures of completed projects, to increase attention, visual processing, logic and reasoning. Encourage a faster processing speed by timing completion with a stopwatch.
  • Playing Cards – Time children while they sort cards into red and black piles. Then, challenge them to do it in a shorter time. Make it harder by having them sort into three piles: red, black and face cards. Keep raising the level of intensity by asking them to do it faster and by adding challenges, such as having them count by 2s or 3s while they're sorting. This is an excellent way to build divided attention and improve processing speed.
  • Simon or Bop It – Children can increase their sequential processing, short-term memory, attention and visual processing with these sound and light mimicking games.
  • Chess – A classic brain game, chess helps with divided attention, executive processing, logic and reasoning, planning,  and problem solving.
  • Brain-Building Apps – helpful for the kids when caught in traffic or waiting in line.
  • Tangram – Players form specific shapes with seven puzzle pieces. Skills used include spatial reasoning, visual processing and planning.
  • Train Conductor – Voted “Best Mobile Game of 2010” by the Independent Game Festival of China, this game requires quick decision-making skills to guide trains to their destination while avoiding disastrous collisions. Skills used include strategic planning and processing speed.
  • Memory Matches – Tough enough for adults but easy enough for young children, this classic card matching game can help anyone strengthen their memory.
  • Simon Says – The famous game is back. Simple, but not easy, Simon can strengthen auditory processing, processing speed, visual processing and attention.
  • Hangman Free – This classic vocabulary game allows you to play against the machine or a friend, working on visual processing, segmenting, logic and reasoning.

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