Now that New Jammies kids are back in the swing of school, focus is a key to helping them achieve high marks and perform well in class. After-school can be an important time of the day for kids to not only relax and play, but also work on focusing on schoolwork.
Let’s Get Physical
Exercise is a great way for kids to fight childhood obesity (September is Childhood Obesity Awareness Month) and stay mind-sharp. The experts at WebMD agree.
“Physical activity boosts blood flow all over the body, including to the brain. Brain cells get better at connecting with each another,” says WebMD author R. Morgan Griffin in “Your Kid’s Brain on Exercise. “What’s the result? Better thinking skills.”
WebMD says studies show that people who exercise more are sharper mentally.
“The effects may be almost immediate. One study found that kids scored higher on math and reading comprehension tests after exercising for 20 minutes,” says the report.
Griffin suggests helping kids benefit from after-school activity with an hour of exercise a day. “That’s what the CDC recommends for kids ages 6 to 18. Your kids can split up activity over the course of the day. A few minutes here and there adds up.”
1. Moderate-intensity aerobic activity, such as brisk walking, or vigorous-intensity activity, such as running.
2. Muscle strengthening activities, such as gymnastics or push-ups.
3. Bone strengthening activities, such as jumping rope or running.
*Per the CDC, some physical activity is better-suited for children than adolescents. For example, children do not usually need formal muscle-strengthening programs, such as lifting weights. Younger children usually strengthen their muscles when they do gymnastics, play on a jungle gym or climb trees. As children grow older and become adolescents, they may start structured weight programs. For example, they may do these types of programs along with their football or basketball team practice.
Exercise the Brain
Check out the interactive website goofybrains.com, a division of Brain Pages, which specializes in the ethical and honest promotion of brain health and mental health products, resources and professionals. The site offers ideas to keep kids’ minds sharp in its “Six Brain Exercises For Children” feature by Sarah Holt, a writer for increasebrainpower.com.
She suggests word searches and crosswords, memory exercises, and obstacle courses for the brain with stations set up hosting different focus-building activities. Holt also encourages parents and caregivers try having kids write or draw left-handed (or right-handed).
“This can be fun to see who can tell what was written or drawn afterwards. Another option is to draw a picture where one-half is done with the dominant hand and then afterwards it is copied onto the other half by the non-dominant hand. These are brain exercises for children that encourage both sides of their brain to work together,” she says.
Thank you, Internet
The puzzles-to-print.com website is a helpful resource for parents and caregivers who have the ability to print off pdfs of word scrambles as educational tools and after-school activities to build focus.
Make the mind games fun for the holidays by printing off holiday-themed puzzles including this puzzle, just in time for Halloween. Click here to print out the fun.
Fall into Fun
Autumn is closing in, so while the weather is still warm, encourage New Jammies kids to play outside after being inside in the classroom all day. The website Kids Activities (www.kidsactivities.net), which provides “1,000s of ideas for childcare professionals and teachers,” offers these ideas, and more, for autumn after-school activities:
2. Magic Pumpkin Seeds. Materials: Pumpkin seeds, small paper bag and small pumpkins. Show the children a small bag of pumpkin seeds and explain that you believe these are magic pumpkin seeds. Take the children outside to your yard where they toss the seeds onto the ground. Have them make up a few magic words, if they want. The next day, before children go outside — gather the seeds and put small pumpkins in their place. Take the children outside and delight them with the ‘magical’ pumpkins that have grown. If you have enough pumpkins, the children can take the pumpkins home and/or first decorate and paint them to add to theme of your space. Idea adapted from preschoolrainbow.org.
3. The Squirrel Game. Let the kids pretend they are squirrels gathering nuts for the winter. Give each a small paper bag, then toss out several unshelled nuts onto the floor and let the kids race to see who can collect the most. Older and younger children should be separated for this game. Another way to play this game, (if you have a way to corral a large quantity of leaves) is to hide nuts beneath a large pile of leaves and give the kids a set amount of time to find as many nuts as they can.
4. Visit http://www.kidactivities.net/category/Seasonal-FallAutumn-Games.aspx for more fun fall game ideas.