Afterschool activities offer children the chance to pursue their hobbies and unwind after a long school day. What’s more, they can also help develop their brain in important ways. We tell you how various hobbies boost and stimulate kids’ growth.
1) Reading: Reading stimulates brain function and fuels the growth of new pathways. It develops the parts of the brain that control problem-solving, interpretation, creativity and emotion. Reading also helps in building memory and exercises the imagination. Once your children are adept at reading, train them in speed reading as this increases the electrical connections between different regions of the brain.
2) Exercise: When you exercise, the body produces a protein called BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor) in the blood stream. When the blood travels through the brain, the cells absorb this protein, which leads to an increase in memory and focus.
3) Learning a New Language: When you are learning a new language, you are using various senses—you are listening to new words, reading new words and saying new words. This means that you are using more than one part of the brain. People who are bilingual (or speak more than one language) are thus better at reasoning, planning and recollection.
4) Meditation and Yoga: Meditation is the elixir of life. It helps you connect to your inner self and brings mental peace. When one has learnt to control one’s breathing, one can improve focus, concentration and memory too. What’s more, meditation also reduces stress and anxiety. It nis a must for all ages and must be practised as often as possible.
5) Playing a Musical Instrument: Researchers and scientists have long believed that music has healing powers. Listening to soothing music helps improve cognitive functions like memory, problem-solving, sequential processing and pattern recognition. Playing an instrument also helps increase grey matter volume and builds better neural connections between the two hemispheres of the brain, which can help children understand mathematics better.
6) Play: The human body is like a computer and the brain is like its central processing unit. The more data you dump into your brain, the better it will perform. Similarly, the more exercise your brain does, the stronger it gets—basically what you are doing is increasing brain plasticity. Games like crosswords, deductive thinking activities and strategic games like chess and some video games force the brain to process new information at faster speeds, thereby making your child smarter.
(Image courtesy Thinkstock)