Could your child become the next Einstein of Physics, or Elinor Ostrom, another Nobel Laureate in economics?  As parents, we’d all like to think so.  One way to help your child develop his or her natural creativity is by engaging them in brain boosting activities.

Up until age 2, babies’ and toddler’s brains are growing by leaps and bounds every day. They develop language and motor skills faster than they ever will.  But between 3 to 5 years, that growth slows. Instead, the brain is making countless connections within its different regions. Preschoolers focus more on absorbing the world around them. Their minds are developing problem-solving skills and using language to negotiate. They’re also learning how to coordinate their bodies to do things like aim and kick a ball.

“Kids should be out there exploring and getting ready for their next important job: going to school,” says developmental pediatrician Michele Macias, MD, spokeswoman for the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and chairwoman of the AAP's section on developmental and behavioral pediatrics.

The No. 1 brain booster for preschoolers is one-on-one time with parents. Even though this is a time to learn independence, the parent-child attachment is still there at this age.

Some activities that are not only fun but challenging to a child’s brain are:

Reading together.

Books that tell a story and ones that teach counting, ABC’s, sorting and matching, and similar core concepts are perfect for developing language, vocabulary and learning skills.

Pretend Play

Preschool-aged children naturally have great imaginations. Though they often start pretend play at younger ages, their imagination life really starts to take hold from age 3-5.

Besides being fun, imaginative play lets kids experiment with role-playing. “Much like reading, make-believe lets kids practice things they might not actually be able to experience in real life,” says child psychologist, Richard Gallagher, at New York University’s Child Study Center.

Games and Puzzles

From Candy Land to “Duck, Duck, Goose”, games with rules help improve social intelligence. Kids practice patience in taking turns, and learn to accept the frustration of not winning. Remembering rules, also gives those memory muscles a workout. Physical games help sharpen the brain’s motor coordination.

Learn another language

Research shows that younger kids can pick up multiple languages much faster than when they get older. Learning a second tongue early on also gives a double punch of stimulation to the areas of the brain responsible for storing, sequencing, and saying words, Gallagher says.

A second language also helps with developing verbal and spatial abilities, and promotes better vocabulary and reading skills. An added perk: Kids get a greater sense of cultural diversity.

Whatever activities you choose, make sure it’s fun for your child. Go easy on the pressure. And above all, just let your kid enjoy the sheer pleasure of being a kid.