Everyone wants the very best for their children, and laying the foundations for a happy, healthy life begins by nurturing their cognitive development. Our cognitive abilities are brain-based skills that help us complete simple or complex tasks, including reading, writing, remembering, reasoning and focusing. It's easy to see why it's important to work with your children to develop and improve these essential skills.

Thankfully, supporting your child's cognitive development is easy, and involves only simple and fun daily interaction. Here are 10 ways you can support your child's cognitive abilities in mere minutes a day.

1. Sing!

Who knew your family sing-a-longs were good for your child’s brain? Well, they are. In the car, at home, walking to the store or park: these are all times you can use song to help develop your child's learning and word identification.

2. Recite ABCs

In addition to signing the Alphabet Song, support cognitive function in your child by reading alphabet based books or playing alphabet games. You can use flash cards to help your child identify letters, or hide the flash cards around the house and encourage your child to find them, and put them in order as they do.

3. Counting 

It makes sense that if letters help develop your child's cognitive skills, so would numbers. Count whatever and whenever you can with your child. Maybe it's the number of apple slices your child is eating at snack time or the number of toys he or she is playing with in the bath. Use every day experiences as learning opportunities.

4. Name the Noise

Noises are everywhere, and learning to identify noises can help your child draw connections between the noises, and what makes them. This ability to draw cause and effect and to identify both is important to cognitive development.

5. Shape & Colour

Here's another easy way to help your child develop his or her cognitive function. Ask your child to identify shapes and colours throughout the day by asking simple, pointed questions. "What colour are my eyes?" or, "What shape is the ball?" are all good questions, and help your child identify and categorise objects in your child's daily life.

6. Q & A

We've already talked about asking questions to help your child understand letters, numbers, shapes and colours, but asking questions, in general, is a great way to help your child develop reasoning and problem-solving skills. For instance, you can ask why it is important to eat vegetables, or why you ask that they hold your hand when they cross the street.

7. Field Trips

Anyone can become bored if they are stuck in the same environment day in and day out. This is why taking your child to a child-friendly space that allows for an enriching hands-on experience is a great way to spark your child’s mind and imagination while also allowing them to learn something new. Seek out places like art galleries or farms, or child-friendly museums and let them explore and ask questions, encouraging curiosity and engagement.

8. Encourage Invention

Allow your child to play with safe everyday items, like storage container lids, pots or pillows, blankets bins and boxes. By using their imagination to create toys and games, your child will enjoy creative development.

9. Feed Them Well

Eating a variety of whole, healthy foods will help nourish your child’s brain and body. Of course, this is sometimes easier said than done. Some kids do not get the essential nutrients they need due to occasional times of low appetite or fussy eating. If this is the case for your child, you may consider brain- supporting supplements made for children that are high in Omega 3 DHA.

10. Games that Grow

Make sure you are always offering a variety of games for your child to play and that the games grow with your child. Peek a Boo is great for a baby or toddler, but as your child gets older, introduce puzzles, board games, tag and hide and seek. 

While certain TV shows and computer games will help your child develop these skills, nothing is more powerfully effective than you doing these things with your child. This will not only develop deeper bonds between you and your child which will bolster their physical and emotional health; it will also limit their screen time, which in itself can support your child's cognitive function.