In a word: exercise!
According to science, exercise and grades have a surprising correlation.
Unfortunately, schools are giving less and less attention to physical education, or PE, in recent years – primarily due to budget cuts. Only 6 states have a mandatory 150 minutes a week of PE for elementary students, and once they reach high school, that drops to zero.
This is more of a problem than people think, as daily exercise and sports can reflect positively on a child’s grades, and there are a variety of ways the three work together. In this article, we’ll summarize a few of the studies that reinforce how exercise and sports help to improve academic performance.
Before School Exercise and Grades
Concentration is a very important part of scoring well in tests to achieve higher grades. Exercising or playing sports before school has been shown to improve grades by increasing the basal ganglia’s volume in the brain.
This helps to improve concentration. In fact, another study showed that it also helps to reduce the symptoms of ADHD.
How to Improve Grades by Improving Memory
Classroom sessions aren’t going to help your child if they can’t remember the lesson(s) being taught.
One of the most critical parts of the brain associated with memory is the hippocampus. One way to improve memory is to stimulate hippocampal volume growth.
After-School Exercise and Cognitive Function
Another important way that exercise and sports help to improve grades is by increasing cognitive function. Cognitive function affects a lot of things: memory, concentration levels, language skills, and even orientation.
The best way to improve your child’s cognitive function is by encouraging them to exercise after school. For example, participating in extracurricular sports activities, like the softball or football team, would do the trick.
Self-Esteem and Confidence
Having self-esteem and confidence goes a long way in improving grades. According to a series of studies, the way regular exercise affects fitness and motor skills also helps to improve children’s academic performance.
How to Improve Grades by Reducing Stress
Stress is something we all face in our lives. But sometimes, we tend to forget that school and academic performance can put even young children under a lot of stress. Remember when you were at school? Pre-test jitters started long before high school!
There are so many different things that can possibly go wrong. The prospect of failing is just as scary in elementary school as it is in college.
Some stress can be good, pushing us to prepare better. But some stress – and even too much of the good kind – can be a very bad thing. When we’re under stress, we don’t perform as well.
Regular exercise and/or sports, and even a short burst of physical activity, helps to reduce stress and improve grades simultaneously!
Creativity Boost for Problem-Solving
Another way that exercise, sports, and grades are connected is in how physical activity improves creativity. It does this by boosting convergent and divergent thinking, which helps with problem-solving.
Brain Breaks in the Classroom
A 2014 study showed that by having short breaks during the day to exercise or play sports, students were able to improve classroom performance.
This works on all of the previous points we’ve made.
Of course, it’s not possible for parents to directly implement “Brain Breaks,” as they have to take place during school hours. That’s why it’s important for you to get involved with your child’s school and encourage them to do so.
Oregon law, for example, mandates that schools include 30 minutes of PE in addition to recess periods. That wouldn’t have become possible without parents getting involved in the legislation process.
Conclusion: How to Improve Child’s Grades
If you’re really serious about helping your child to improve their grades, then you should spend at least 15 minutes a day doing some physical activity with them.
By investing time in encouraging your child to exercise or participate in sports, not only will they enjoy the short-term benefits, but the long-term benefits as well. Programs like our summer camps and afterschool programs are a great way to get your child moving. Even regular exercise for as little as 8 months will help improve their neuroplasticity, which will make them better learners for life.