Why Your Child Should Exercise During Exams

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You may feel like your child should spend every waking hour preparing for their exams. But in order to achieve great results, they need to do more than sit behind books.

For most students during the exam period, any hope of regular exercise goes out of the window. In its place falls lengthy revision sessions and high-stress levels. While you might want your child to spend hours upon hours behind their schoolbooks (or WorksheetCloud!), the truth is that if you really want them to fulfill their potential, from both an academic and health perspective, you might want to dig those gym shorts back out of the wardrobe.

The Big Benefits of Exam-time Exercise

You’ve no doubt heard about the numerous physical health benefits of regular exercise, but have you ever stopped to think how it could influence your child’s mental performance?

Aside from providing a well-needed break from marathon revision sessions, when our bodies engage in movement, it triggers the release of various hormones and chemical compounds in the body. These hormones and chemical compounds all have very important effects on various brain functions.

What is released during exercise, and how it helps

  • Serotonin – involved in regulating sleep cycles and boosting mood.
  • Dopamine – positively influences learning and attention span.
  • Nor-epinephrine – affects motivation and mental stimulation.
  • Coupled with an increased blood flow to the brain, this cocktail of hormones and neurotransmitters improves cognitive function and the ability to focus for longer time periods. Which means higher quality revision sessions and a higher chance of hitting your target results.
  • Research also shows that exercise significantly reduces resting levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, allowing you to spend less time worrying and more time getting work done.
  • If that wasn’t enough, regular movement has also been shown to result in an increase in the size of the hippo-campus, a part of the brain involved with memory retention.

Fitting Exercise Into your Busy Schedule

It’s all well and good knowing about the potential benefits of exercising during exam time, but that still doesn’t solve the problem of fitting it into your child’s busy schedule.

Try these …

  • To start with, it’s important to be flexible. Fit exercise around your child’s revision timetable and find what works for them.
  • For some, an early morning session increases their focus for the rest of the day. For others, a lunchtime workout helps to break up the monotony, or an evening exercise class helps them to de-stress before bed.
  • Remember that exercise doesn’t have to last for hours to count. During revision periods, you might benefit from moving towards shorter, more intense sessions like a quick jog or some skipping. You still get all the important physical and cognitive benefits, just in less time.
  • Your children can also stay fresh throughout the rest of the day by taking regular movement breaks from their work, every half an hour or so. Whether it’s a short walk or a few stretches, help them to stay active.

Time to do the work

Hopefully, now you’re convinced that staying mobile and getting a sweat on during the exam period is a must for your child.

Just remember that what they eat can have just as much as an impact on their mental performance. Aim for plenty of nutrient dense fruits and veggies, as well as omega-3 rich nuts and seeds for an even bigger brain boost.

What exercise tips do you have for exam time? Post your comments below.

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About the Author

Adrian is the Product Director and Co-founder of Learning Lab Apps, the company that develops WorksheetCloud. He is an edtech activist, but also a firm believer in the effectiveness of good, old fashioned, hands-on teaching.

4 Comments

  1. Beverley Bubb

    Hi, a friend told me about Worksheet Cloud. It seems great especially for my Gr 4 daughter who has ADD. She is a bright girl but concentration is a huge problem and homework after work with her is sometimes a nightmare. My husband passed away 2 month’s ago and I’m left to cope on my own with 2 young girls. Financially its tough with only my salary but I really need my girls to be confident in having to cope with their schoolwork. Regards Bev Bubb

    Reply
    • Kayleen Olivier

      Hi Beverley

      Thanks for your comment and interest in WorksheetCloud.

      We’d love to get your daughters started on WorksheetCloud! Someone from our Customer Service team will contact you via email to assist you further.

      Please let us know if you have any questions in the interim and we’ll be happy to assist.

      Kayleen 🙂

      Reply
  2. olivia

    We have a 5 year old who does not read yet. How can I encourage her t o recognize words or sounds in a fun way.

    Reply
    • Kayleen Olivier

      Hi Olivia

      Thanks for your message.

      Emergent literacy skills that lead to a child’s ability to read and write include print motivation, vocabulary, print awareness, narrative skills, letter awareness and phonological awareness.

      You can help your child develop literacy skills during regular activities without adding extra time to your day. There also are things you can do during planned play and reading times. Show your children that reading and writing are a part of everyday life and can be fun and enjoyable.

      Here are some ways that you can help support and encourage emergent literacy in your child, that are fun and easy to do:

      Print motivation:
      Print motivation is a stage characterized by getting kids interested in reading. To encourage this:
      – Read aloud to your child on a regular basis.
      – Provide your child with soft or board books, which help them to become familiar with the process of reading and engaging with print materials.
      – Occasionally follow words with your finger to show them that we read from left to right and top to bottom.
      – Encourage them to “pretend” to read to you.

      Vocabulary:
      Because vocabulary is a strong predictor of academic achievement, it is important to help develop your child’s vocabulary. You can introduce new vocabulary through everyday experiences or while reading aloud. In order to help increase their vocabulary, you can replace familiar words with more advanced words. Steps include:
      – Focus your child’s attention on books by pointing to words and pictures as you read.
      – Stress the new word through inflection.
      – Show the definition of the word through visual cues.
      – Tell them what it means.
      – Relate the word to the child’s experiences or other familiar contexts.
      – Say the word again.

      Print awareness
      Print awareness is characterized by a child’s understanding of how reading works and their ability to recognize differences between letters and words. To develop this, you can:
      – Read books and point to words or pictures to help your child connect the spoken word to the written word or the objects to which it refer.
      – Read signs or other print materials aloud, pointing out the objects or words that correlate to the signs or objects.
      – Invite your child to help you read a story, and read favorite stories over and over. Repetition is key.

      Narrative skills
      When a child develops narrative skills, they are able to create a sequence or tell a story as a series of events. To encourage this step:
      – Encourage your child to tell you a story.
      – As your child tells you a story, ask them to provide more detail through providing sequencing words such as “next,” “then” and “so on”.
      – Encourage your child to describe or tell a story about any of their drawings and write down the words for them on/next to the picture.
      – Ask them to provide even more details about what they see or the observations they make.
      – Talk to your child and name objects, people, and events in the everyday environment.
      – Talk to your child during daily routine activities such as bath or mealtime and respond to his or her questions.

      Letter awareness
      A child who has developed letter awareness is able to recognize that letters are distinct and each letter makes a different sound. You can help build this skill by:
      – Pointing out letters to them on familiar objects.
      – Singing the alphabet song.
      – Playing alphabet games.
      – Writing familiar words with crayons, clay, or magnetic letters.
      – Writing words as they are spoken.
      – Provide a variety of materials to encourage drawing and scribbling (e.g., crayons, paper, markers, finger paints).

      Phonological awareness
      When a child develops phonological awareness, he or she is able to discern the different sounds or phonemes that make up words and understand that by combining different sounds that this creates words that have meaning. To develop this skill:
      – Play rhyming games with kids.
      – Read books that rhyme.
      – Clap when reading words to indicate the presence of syllable breaks.

      I hope this helps. If you’d like some more examples, or would like to know more about the various components of emergent literacy, please let us know and we’ll be happy to help.

      Kayleen 🙂

      Reply

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