Primary Cognitive Workouts are written so that primary students (~kindergarten through grade 3) can perform them with the help of a parent, other adult, or an older sibling or friend that can read. To get started, select a cognitive domain below:
Attention (Click on any title below for worksheet PDF)
- Encourage your child to maintain eye contact when talking with you or another person.
- Encourage your child to ask questions during conversations or in class. Demonstrate how to ask questions when they talk to you.
- When doing homework, help your child find a place with few distractions e.g. a quiet place by themself.
- Help your child to break a large task into several smaller ones.
- Allow your child to take breaks when doing tedious tasks.
- Help your child make lists. If your child is unable to read or write, have them draw pictures as items on the list.
- Give your child reminders of important events or tasks, and help them create reminders of their own.
- Read a story together then go back through the book and ask your child questions about what happened in each scene.
- Encourage your child to ask questions in conversation. Pause after talking to allow your child time to think.
- Discuss the characters and relationships among them in TV programs after watching them together.
- Encourage your child to make predictions about what will happen in a story or TV program.
- Ask your child to repeat directions back to you.
- Give your child instructions in “chunks” of one or two steps at a time.
- Help your child organize their backpack the night before school. Talk with your child about planning for the next day based on what they will likely be doing at school tomorrow.
- Help your child organize school papers in different colored folders for each subject. For example, math goes in the blue folder, English in the red folder.
- Encourage and help your child to make lists of things they need to remember. For example, have them help you make the grocery list and use it to shop with, or help them make a list of homework assignments.
- Ask your child to organize items by type, size, color, etc., when they are putting toys away.
- Help your child label where things belong in their room e.g. pencils, notebooks, pictures, socks, shirts.
- Talk about (and use make believe or role-play) situations where impulsivity is either inappropriate or dangerous. Examples include:
-A ball that runs out in to the street
-Waiting to begin eating until everyone has been served.
-Waiting until someone has finished speaking rather than interrupting.
- Use new vocabulary words with your child and talk about the word’s meanings.
- Remind your child to slow down when they are speaking.
- Encourage your child to read to you. If your child cannot read, ask your child to “tell” you a story by looking at a storybook’s pictures.
- Sing with your child.
- Repeat instructions or sentences as needed.
- Ask open-ended questions when your child is engaged in an activity. Suggestions include: “How did you make that?” “How did the story end?”
Make a homework or study area for your child:
• The study area should be comfortable.
• The study area should be free of interruptions and distractions.
• Your child should study in the same place everyday.
• Identify the best time of day for your child to study, (e.g. when they get home from school or after dinner).
• Have all materials present that your child will need to study.
When your child is doing homework or studying:
• Encourage your child to think about what they are trying to learn.
• Encourage your child to read directions slowly and carefully.
• Encourage your child to remember what they already know about the topic.
• Encourage your child to ask for help when they are having trouble.
• Encourage your child to take notes while reading, to draw diagrams and pictures, to write summaries in their own words, and to go through practice problems if appropriate.
After homework or studying:
• Ask your child to tell you what they learned about. Encourage them to reflect on what was new to them.
• Quiz your child on the information they just learned about.
• Talk with your child about what they learned about in class that day.
- Help your child to create visual images of things they are trying to remember.
- Help your child to make associations by pointing out and talking about things that go together.
- Make lists with your child.
- Make sure your child gets a proper amount of sleep.
- Help your child think of a humorous phrase or image that your child can associate with information they trying to memorize.
- Encourage your child to use “chunking”. Group items from a long list into smaller chunks and your child can focus on rehearsing smaller chunks in sequence.
- Ask your child to rehearse information out loud.
- Rehearse information your child is learning. Ask them one or two times each day to tell you about e.g. the letters of the alphabet, or the days of the week.
- Play with clay or dough with your child. Encourage them to make different objects with the clay.
- Play “jacks” with your child.
- Dance with your child.
- Encourage your child to play with building blocks.
- Encourage your child to play sports.
- Encourage your child to play on a jungle gym (playground equipment).
- Go swimming with your child.
- Suggested topics for sensorimotor conversations include:
- changes in the weather and how hot or cold, wet or dry it is.
- how different types of clothing feels against the skin.
- the texture of different foods.
- whether an object can be picked up or not.
- different ways to move across a room.
- Have your child put together jigsaw puzzles.
- When reading stories with your child, encourage your them to look back and forth several times over a page to make sure they notice all of the words or details in the pictures.
- Encourage your child to look around the room/environment to be more aware of all of the surrounding objects.
- Buy a set of wooden or foam assorted shapes (e.g. circles, squares, triangles). Your child can use these shapes to make representations of larger objects such as a dog or flower.
- Your child can try stereograms (pictures that appear 3-dimensional), which are available at the library, a local bookstore, or on-line.
- Your child can try metal/tavern puzzles (a metal puzzle in which you separate certain pieces), which can be purchased on-line and in stores.