School returns in less than a month. Is your child ready? The first quarter of the school year is generally devoted to “reviewing” previous material because children have simply forgotten much of what they learned. In addition, children have to mentally adjust to the school regimen. After a summer of play and fun, students, in many instances, have to re-learn the ability to focus and process new information.
If your child hasn’t had the benefit of a summer program that kept them active mentally as well as physically, this process can be a frustrating time for them, you, and their teacher. However, it isn’t too late to start preparing them for the upcoming school year. And this doesn’t require setting them down with a math or history textbook.
The goal is to help your child develop strong mental processes that will allow them to learn new material quickly. Surprising as it seems, this may mean more physical activity than book reading. Optometrist Carolanne Roach, owner of the Brain and Eye Connection Vision Clinic, explains the importance of physical activity to mental development. “In our society children move less and less. They sit in front of a TV or computer for a majority of the day. This lack of movement delays their brain’s development and hinders their ability to learn,” says Dr. Roach. “Movement, coordination, and balance skills are the foundation for academic learning. Movement also keeps the body healthier so the brain can properly function and learn,” she continues.
For younger students, physical play is often exactly what is needed. For older students, physical activity that requires them to learn new skills or information will give them an advantage when school starts and they are trying to focus on the new information they are being asked to process.
There are a variety of options available to parents to help ensure their children are prepared for the upcoming school year. The best part is, they won’t be complaining about having to do “homework” prior to the start of school. Finding an activity that will engage their minds and bodies is the key. As Dr. Roach states, “Physical activity helps the brain build the foundations for academic learning. By understanding space and how to move through it, the brain can use vision, eye-hand coordination, and motor planning skills needed for learning math, writing, reading, and critical thinking skills.”
James Davenport is the co-owner of All American Martial Arts, located in Del City.