From birth, the human brain acquires executive function and self-regulation skills, which help lifelong to set and achieve goals, ignore distractions, and control one’s actions. The earlier the kid masters self-regulation, the more it will benefit future life and studies. It helps a child think before taking actions, learn to make choices, follow the rules, and behave. According to the Harvard Center on the Developing Child (2014), children are not born with these skills, so they need help and support to develop them. At the age of 18-36 months, skills development is mostly provided through play.
Singing songs is a widely used activity in classes for two or three years old. Singing is beneficial for children as it trains memory, teaches them to follow the melody, and remember the sequence of actions if the rhyme presupposes doing movements. For example, small children love to play John the Rabbit singing game where they need to react and reply “yes, ma’am,” but with the change to “no, ma’am” in the last verse. First of all, kids meet the requirement to control themselves and avoid repeating the same phrase up till the end. Second, additional guidance with gestures that would signalize replying “yes” or “no” teaches to focus attention.
Simple games can be rich in elements beneficial for executive functioning development. According to the Harvard Center on the Developing Child (2014), executive skills training activities should be purposeful. In the game Keep the word in Secret, the caregiver names a simple list of words that kids need to repeat. However, children will have to remember one condition: the names of colors are a secret, they cannot be named. Instead, when faced with the word denoting color, children should clap their hands once. The exercises’ primary purpose is to teach a child to be guided by a given rule for a long time, remember the category, and ignore distractions as words from other classes. When the child is allowed to be the game master and come up with the rule by themselves, they also learn to control. As the little ones are consistent in following the direction, two simultaneous rules are devised to stimulate the working memory even more. Therefore, any game may turn into useful educational activity with positive outcomes for children’s development.
Center on the Developing Child (2014). Enhancing and practicing executive function skills with children from infancy to adolescence. Harvard University. Web.