Now that school is back in session, many parents wonder if the school’s curriculum is enough to promote their child’s cognitive development. Fortunately, opportunities for young minds to think, reason, and grow don’t stop when the last bell rings.
Here are five extracurricular activities that will help improve your child’s memory, information processing, problem-solving, and decision-making skills.
Extracurricular activities that involve critical thinking are an excellent way to boost brain function. STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) clubs have become increasingly popular over the last decade at all education levels and are available through many after-school programs. Unlike the typical classroom, these clubs encourage experiential learning. Children involved in STEM activities develop stronger problem-solving skills and are more likely to remain interested in science and mathematics courses through high school and college.
Physical activity is a fantastic way to promote a healthy mind and body. Sports and other recreational activities improve cognitive functions through social, psychological, and fine/gross motor skill development. These activities also promote achievement and recognition, which directly affect a child’s self-esteem. Children who have confidence in their self-worth become better problem solvers and decision-makers. If your child isn’t a fan of team sports, there are plenty of individual sports like tennis, swimming, golf, and fencing in your area that are equally beneficial.
A child’s capacity for creativity plays an important role in how they process new information. Time should be made available for both structured and unstructured creative activities. Unstructured creativity also allows a child to more effectively process, reflect upon, and absorb traditional subject areas in their academic curriculum. Structured creative projects combine the freedom of imaginative thinking with the logic and reason required to complete a task or goal. Art classes, clubs, or camps are a wonderful way to engage both halves of the brain and promote cognitive development.
Scouts BSA and The Girls Scouts are accessible in almost every community across the country with millions of scouts in thousands of troops across the nation. In addition to survival and citizenship education, scouting organizations teach self-reliance and decision-making skills. Many of their activities provide an outlet for children to apply these skills in real-world scenarios or incorporate aspects of the other activities listed above. Scouting at a young age is intended to be a family activity and a fantastic way to actively engage with your child.
In moderation, screen-time doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Schools are investing in the eGaming industry, which may even become part of the Olympics by 2024. Competitive games improve strategic thinking and making decisions under pressure while creative world-building games improve spatial perception, logistics, and cooperation to achieve a common goal. With the appropriate guidance and structure, virtual activities can be so much more than a way to pass the time.
Nearly all of these activities are already available in your area. Offering a healthy and fun outlet for children to learn and grow is essential for their mental development. Cognitive development is all about change. Extracurricular activities like these are the perfect way to start your child on a path for success in an ever-changing world.
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