In today’s fast paced modern economy, every advantage matters. From Wall Street firms investing billions into higher speed cables to tech companies scouring the globe for the best candidates for coding jobs, the world of technology is opening doors for people around the world. So how do you open some of these same doors for your kids? Improving children’s cognitive function is not only fun, but also gives them some startling advantages early and later on in life.
1- Stronger Kids
Believe it or not, improved cognitive function in children is actually closely tied to improving physical function. The links between exercise and brain function have been well documented, with studies showing improvement in children’s memory and mental speed correlated with simple running as early as first grade. As exercise is also linked to overall physical health and strength, one advantage of improving cognitive function through exercise is that kids get physically stronger at the same time. A chemical called irisin, released during exercise, functions as a genetic key of sorts to unlock genes controlling memory acquisition and speed.
2- Advanced Placement in School
One of the biggest advantages of improving your child’s cognitive abilities is that he or she will be more likely to be positively gated in school. Classroom gating is the sorting of children into higher and lower level courses, based on their simple ability to learn and remember taught material. Studies have shown that students who are placed into advanced courses from an early age are more likely to go to top universities and enter into the highest paying and most prestigious fields of study.
3- Less Stress
Kids who are cognitively advanced often show signs of mindfulness. While mindfulness may be a buzz word better reserved for the yogis of the world, evidence based research has shown that students who have heightened self-awareness and practice mindfulness meditation, both linked to advanced cognitive function, experience less stress as compared to their peers. Researchers from Harvard have actually uncovered a link between stress levels and the progression of cognitive disorders like Alzheimer’s disease, so students who practice advanced cognitive stress reduction techniques will likely be protected from such diseases in the future.
4- Better Rest
Sleep is often considered to be a waste of time and a sign of weakness for those involved in high pressure business environments. That outdated idea could not be farther from the truth. In fact, research has shown that children with larger amounts of gray matter, or healthy brain tissue, also sleep more and deeper than their peers. This suggests that kids who have improved cognitive function actually get better sleep. Thankfully, this has a number of different effects: better levels of sleep are highly correlated with improved executive function and memory related tasks. Also, kids who sleep more have more energy and are able to focus more in school, thus in effect doubling down on their improved cognitive function by allowing smarter students to learn more in school.
5- Better Language Skills
It is easy to see that kids learn faster and more thoroughly than adults do, especially when it comes to languages. Students who have improved cognitive function are able to effectively learn languages even faster than their peers, and bilingualism has been shown to improve cognition simply by itself. Therefore, students who are cognitive advanced are better able to learn, and by learning languages are able to grow faster than their peers.
6- Improved Entrepreneurs
One study out of the University of Michigan in 2013 sheds an interesting light on students that improve their cognitive function specifically with regards to their creativity: students who actively participate in arts and crafts are statistically more likely to not only open up their own business, but also run multiple successful business at the same time. In addition, studies have shown that practicing a musical instrument improves brain plasticity: the ability of the brain to make new connections and improve its processing speed. While creative arts are not commonly seen as an area to improve cognitive function in, doing so can reap rewards financially down the road.