How Playing With Your Grandchildren Keeps Your Mind Active
“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.”
– George Bernard Shaw
As we get older, it is only natural that we play less than we did as children.
One of the reasons play is so important for children is the learning and developmental benefits they get from it. For example, mastering their hand-eye coordination, learning to problem-solve, and communicating with others.
However, this need to participate in activities and games also applies to adults. While there is no direct evidence yet that keeping our brain active with games can reduce the risk of dementia, it has been shown to improve memory and reasoning skills.
Additionally, games are social, and stimulating our brains keeps our senses, balance, and coordination in check too.
The value of playing with children
Games and activities also provide a great opportunity to bond with those who play best – children. In fact, one of the most enviable parts of being a grandparent is that you get to have all the fun playing, before being able to hand them back at the end of the day!
Engaging in activities together can be a surprising two-way learning process as well. For example, you may have the skill to pass on such as model-making, knitting, gardening or baking. These are great as they are relaxing activities which also have the lovely benefit of preserving a skill from one generation to the next.
Children will equally get a lot out of being able to explain something to you. As our world becomes increasingly tech-savvy, often they may be more exposed to technology on a daily basis than we are! They will love the opportunity to show their expertise in explaining how something works.
There are also plenty of exciting games out there that can get you started. While for younger children it is important to keep play simple and fun, older children might be interested in more creative, problem-solving activities and asking questions.
Here are our suggestions for toys that are both engaging and educational to enjoy together:
GraviTrax sets are proven to be a hit with both children and adults alike and are a great way to experiment and develop an understanding of scientific concepts like gravity and magnetism. Building the track requires lots of creative problem-solving to make it work correctly, making it a great construction set to collaborate on.
Puzzles are one of the most simple ways to get our brains whirring as we work together to figure out which piece goes where. For children, they are also fantastic for developing their logical thinking skills and spatial awareness.
This Brain Train puzzle challenges your sequencing ability too as it requires you to work out the consequence of the pattern you design
Trying your hand at baking with children is a great way to foster their interest at a young age. While they may not realise it, baking is brilliant for stimulating the brain as it involves using maths (i.e. measurement)counting, and the understanding of logical thinking when following a recipe.
It is also a lovely way to bond as the finished product is something you can eat together and enjoy, what could be better than that!
Board games are an easy way to get involved with the children’s play and great for bonding as a whole family too.
Race the Rails is a card-based game that is fun for all ages, as it challenges knowledge of the London Transport System.
It’s fast-paced which means it encourages reaction times and observation skills as players compete to find the correct stations along their route.
Games that encourage us to get active can be great for stimulating the brain because they require us to react quickly and use our hand-eye coordination.
Hop Skip Jump is versatile as it can be used both outdoors and indoors and is a fun way to get everyone thinking, laughing, and moving.
Creative sets that offer the opportunity for storytelling are a great bonding activity as they get you involved in children’s vivid, imaginary worlds. Making up their own stories is one of the most powerful ways children learn to express themselves and communicate.
As adults, it can be equally wonderful to take a break from the ‘real world’ and fully immerse ourselves in a good story.
Mag Play allows you to recreate a creative, magnetic scene from the cards or make up your own.
As we get older, we often forget the simple joy of play. But as well as being fun, it also has great benefits for stimulating our brain and keeping it active.
Playing a game or working together to complete a puzzle is also a fantastic common ground for different generations to connect over.
Have a go at playing one of our suggested activities – you are guaranteed to have fun and boost your brainpower while helping your younger playmate’s development too.
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