The Importance of Physical Activity for Brain Development
Children learn best through play. Seems obvious, right? But so often parents and teachers focus on the cognitive aspects of learning that physical movement gets thrown out the door. Why does my kid need to have two recesses every day when they could be using that time to stuff more information into their brain? School is for learning!
The wonderful fact of the matter is that children need movement for healthy cognitive learning. The book, A Moving Child is a Learning Child, explains the link between movement and learning in young children (birth to 7 years). The information that children’s brains receive during physical movement and other sensory activities is crucial for early brain development. This information wires millions of neural pathways in their brains. These pathways are the basis for future cognitive learning.
We now understand that young children’s education must include cognitive learning, physical activity, and character development. The mix of these three creates a well-rounded individual. The tricky part is trying to teach character development at such a young age. How do you teach a five-year-old about accountability?
My favorite way to approach this is to link the character idea with physical activity. But how do you link character development with physical activity? Kids love games, and they love games where they get to take their own turn to spin a spinner, pick a card, or roll a dice. I like to print out cards for each child to draw. On the front of each card is a character development idea: ideas for how to be kind, how to take responsibility, prompts for what each child is grateful for. On the back of each card I like to write in a physical activity: jumping jacks, bear walks, run in place.
It can seem like a Mount Everest sized project to teach a young child everything they need to be prepared for life. You can make it easy and fun by combining physical and cognitive learning, and you get bonus points for including character development. The best part of it all is that children actually learn best when these different ideas are combined. Have some creative learning ideas of your own? Share them with us!
More Character Development Ideas: