Expert Tips to Build Your Kids' Brain Power

Susie McGee
Ilchi Lee, author of Power Brain Kids and Brain Wave Vibration, discusses the impact physical activity has on the brain.

Ilchi Lee has dedicated himself to the nurture and development of the human brain. Author of Power Brain Kids and Brain Wave Vibration: Getting Back into the Rhythm of a Happy, Healthy Life, Lee is the founder of Dahn Yoga, president of the International Brain Education Association and the Korea Brain Institute, and author of more than 30 books most of which focus on the important role of the brain in the creation of a better world for ourselves and our children. He discusses the impact physical activity has on the brain.

Please tell us a little about yourself.

I suffered from ADHD in childhood, but because I grew up in South Korea in the 1950s, no one had a diagnosis for me. I just thought it was a failing in me. When I grew up, I turned to martial arts and yoga to help me focus, and I learned a tremendous thing - the power of the human brain to transform itself, to become healthier, calmer and more powerful. In the past three decades I have worked to develop exercise techniques based on these principles, which has become Dahn Yoga and Brain Wave Vibration. I have worked with thousands of people from all walks of life, from company CEOs to young children, in learning how to best use the brain and in building brain-body health programs.

What is BEST?

Brain Education System Training™ (BEST) is designed to be a simple and easy-to-follow way to maximize your brain potential, so that you can live a healthy, happy, and peaceful life. The training system is divided into five steps, each one building on the effectiveness of the last. Generally, the steps are practiced in order as you progress through the BEST 5 programs, but all steps will require continuous practice, and many of the training programs utilize various steps simultaneously and do not necessarily need to be completed in order. I go into detail in my book, BEST 5 Handbook, available through Amazon. For children, I also recommend my book Power Brain Kids which is full of tips and lessons to get your child interested in brain-body health and exercise.

Why should parents encourage their children to try new activities?

Every child possesses a marvelously capable brain. Using its full capacity is simply a matter of accessing and supporting the rich potential that lies beneath the surface. When children try new activities, they build new neural connections in their brains, and they learn new ways to focus and to use their bodies.

How does physical activity improve brain activity?

Science has shown us that when we learn a new physical activity, we actually build new neural pathways in our brains. Then, practicing and perfecting those activities strengthens the brain just as it strengthens the other organs and muscles of the body.

What are some activities and/or exercises that children can do to stimulate their brains?

In Power Brain Kids, you will find a child-appropriate and parent-friendly guide to the Brain Education (BE) method. Each lesson focuses on a particular aspect of mental ability, including concentration, creativity, memory, and emotional control.

Here are some simple exercises that we have seen work amazingly well:

  • Flamingo-This builds balance and also aids the brain in developing new neural connections. **Stand with your feet together on the ground and your arms straight out to the side.
    • Slowly lift one leg as high as you can with your knee bent and your foot resting against the side of your other leg.
    • Hold the position for 10 counts. Switch legs and try again.
  • Itsy Bitsy Brainy
    • Put your thumbs and index fingers together, as in the game "Itsy Bitsy Spider." Your right index finger should be on your left thumb, and your left index finger on your right thumb.
    • Now, separate the bottom thumb from and finger and swing them up over the top thumb and finger, touching them together again. Repeat this action, continuing to "walk" up five times.
    • Switch direction and begin to walk the fingers down.
    • Now, begin to walk up again, but this time switch to the middle finger. Walk up and down five times, just as before.
    • Continue the same action, switching between fingers. When you reach the pinkie, reverse and work back to the index finger.

    Do you have any other advice you'd like to share with our readers?

    Science is also proving what we instinctively know to be true--a happy brain is a healthier brain. The simple act of smiling stimulates the brain areas that are related to contentedness and joy and help alleviate stress. Children are certainly just as likely as adults to experience stress. Try to build laughter into every day.

    Where can we read more about you?

    Check out Dahn Yoga, Ilchi Lee.com and Brain Wave Vibration. These sites have information about me, and also about the exercises, meditation and other techniques we are finding every day to help make us healthier and happier.

Expert Tips to Build Your Kids' Brain Power