How To Sharpen Your Child’s Brain Through Play: Lesson 3

Play 3: The mirror or reflection games for kids under five (5) months


What do kids under five (5) months know? It has been established that human beings learn from whatever they experience, no matter how minor. Most times, the lessons learnt are not learnt consciously. Children need to experience varied situations to build their database of lessons learnt. Sharpening the brain, in this case, means presenting the child with a situation that would have taken longer time to experience. Experiencing the situation on a few occasions, whether that situation presented was done consciously or unconsciously by the parents, is just normal growth or brain development by the child. To sharpen the brain rather means consistently presenting a situation to the child that he or she is accustomed to rather than late.

The mirror game

How do your kids react to mirrors in front of them? Some kids will try to touch the face of the reflection in the mirror like the way they touch other kids’ faces. Some kids can cry while others will talk to their reflections in the mirror. The play simply involves putting bigger-sized mirrors in front of the child and the parents ask the child rhetorical questions like who is that, and what is the reflected child doing, especially if the real child moves parts of himself or herself. In short, whatever reaction the child displays in front of the mirror on any occasion, the parent or caregiver must find a rhetorical question for it to ask the child. At one point, the child would start to observe the opaque back of the mirror, to see whether another child is at the back. Finally, the child would get to know it is just a reflection of himself or herself. That is when this game ends. The lessons that would be learnt from this play are

a) self awareness

b) shadows/reflections

a. Self awareness

Why would the child who matured in the play try to observe the back of the mirror whether another child is there? This goes to explain that, when the child stops to observe because obviously no other child is there, the child now knows he or she is a being and there is something that does not exist but just a reflection of another thing. The mental thinking or development that occurred in the child to stop observing the back of the mirror for a non-existent being, is very significant for a child at that level and will go a long way to help the child observe things differently compared to a child who did not have this experience that earlier. Academics is full of abstract thinking and so helping a child under five (5) months to think abstractly will help the child in school later in life.

b. Shadows/reflections

A lot of children will cry or get scared of seeing shadows. However, a child who has gone through the mirror game will care less about shadows because the concept is the same. It is therefore good to note that the shadow plays should follow immediately when the child gets used to the mirror play. This is done by carrying the child around and pointing at the shadows on the floor or walls. It is more enjoyable using the shadows of both the child and/or the parent carrying the child. Shadows and reflections are learnt in school. Putting such a lesson in the subconscious of the child when his/her memory is approximately zero will definitely be a fall back for previous knowledge for the child academically.

Even though without this play, the child would learn this self awareness in the mirror later in life, that would have been a normal development, not sharpened. It must be emphasized again that, without these mirrors or shadow games, the child would grow to know images in the mirrors are just reflections. Consciously and consistently putting the mirrors in front of the child early in life only brings an experience for the child to learn from earlier than he or she would have. This should put the child ahead of his or her peers with the lessons learnt from this effort from the parents or caregivers.

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