Physical Activities to Help Improve your Child’s Cognitive Ability
We typically think of running, jumping, and skipping as activities that should be confined to the school gym or playground. But did you know that they might be the key to your kids’ success in social studies or science class? Numerous studies have shown a link between physical activity and improved cognitive ability – both in the long term and immediately after exercising.
Early humans spent almost every waking hour in motion. According to John Medina in his book, “Brain Rules,” our ancestors walked and ran up to 12 miles a day, all while teaching themselves how to start fires and figure out which plants were edible. Our brains simply adapted to learn better during exercise.
A study conducted by the University of British Columbia also showed that regular aerobic exercise results in a larger hippocampus, the part of the brain that controls verbal memory and learning. Scientists have many theories on exactly why exercise improves learning, but most agree that it only takes moderate activity a few times a week to see the benefits, and that any movement is better than none.
Exercise doesn’t just cause a long-term improvement in learning – it can also have an immediate impact on academic performance. Several studies have shown that moderate exercise can improve student’s scores on tests taken directly after the activity. It’s thought that physical activity boosts kids’ moods and attentiveness, which leads to better performance in school.
Kids are naturally more active in the summer. Without hours spent in the classroom, kids have more time to run around and play with their friends. Why not take advantage of the brain-boosting power of exercise to combine active play with learning? Here are some fun ways to couple exercise with learning.
All you need for this classic recess game is a piece of chalk, a rock, and some pavement. Draw out a court, toss the rock onto a square, and hop away! Jumping challenges both balance and aerobic ability, and young children can get a brain boost by reciting the numbers as they hop in each square. Skipping the square that the rock landed in and counting backwards on the return trip will help to develop your young one’s number sense.
Teach your kids the jump rope rhymes you chanted on the playground when you were their age. These rhymes can be a fun introduction to poetry, and many of them include counting exercises that can help develop numeracy skills. These can be made more difficult for older children by requiring them to count by twos or threes. They’ll have so much fun they won’t even realize they’re exercising!
Go for a Walk
Going for a walk around your neighborhood can offer numerous learning opportunities. Ask your kids to read the numbers on each house as you pass. For young children, recognizing numbers out of order can be quite challenging! You can also squeeze some learning into your stroll by encouraging your kids to read street signs or count the number of houses on your block.
Count how many times you can throw the ball without dropping it. Count by twos or only using odd numbers (1, 3, 5, 7…) for a challenge.
Complete Kumon Worksheets
After a morning spent playing outdoors, your kids will be more attentive and ready to study! Take advantage of the benefits that exercise provides and schedule time each day for your kids to complete their Kumon Worksheets after they’ve spent time playing and being active.
It doesn’t take a lot of exercise to see an improvement in the classroom. Your kids can benefit just from playing with their friends at the playground. We still have a lot to learn about the brain, but the connection between activity and learning is clear. Read more about the impact of learning on the brain.