Factors That Affect A Child’s Academic Performance
Apart from the IQ level, psychological, social, economic, personal, and environmental factors play a role in education. The effects of these factors vary from person to person and even country to country! Some such elements are:2 3
Academic and school attachment
Teacher support and teaching style
Family educational background
Many people underestimate the importance of physical activity in the well being of a child. According to studies, students who get regular physical activity perform better academically. The benefits of exercising often include better attention, memory retention, performance on standardized academic tests, problem-solving skills, enhanced reaction time, creative thinking, and much more. And this applies to college students as well.
If you thought that your child’s academic performance is based solely on the number of hours spent studying, you’re sorely wrong. Academic performance and good grades are a result of multiple factors – everything from the child’s intellect to the environment they are in. And one of the major, mostly ignored, influencing factor is physical health.
Physical activity and health can actually boost a person’s ability to learn. According to the National Academy of Medicine, exercise can improve a child’s cognitive abilities, health, and academic performance significantly.1
How Does Exercise Affect Academic Performance?
Studies show that children who get adequate exercise and are active every day tend to have the following characteristics when compared to less-active children:4 5 6
More focused attention
Better memory retention
Better cardiovascular function
Better metabolic function
Improved bone health
Better problem-solving skills
Better performance on standardized academic tests
Immediate and long-term improvement in academic performance
Better reaction time and creative thinking
Increased positive moods
Effect Of Exercise On The Brain
According to a study by the University of British Columbia, regular aerobic exercise enhances the functioning of the hippocampus, the area of the brain involved in learning and verbal memory.7 Other forms of exercise like balance exercises, muscle toning exercises, and resistance training did not have the same result on the brain. Even the prefrontal cortex and medial temporal cortex – parts of the brain that control thinking and memory – were found to be in better health in those who exercised regularly than in the brains of those who didn’t exercise.
The effect of exercise on memory and thinking is both direct and indirect.
Directly, regular exercise gives the ability to reduce inflammation, reduce insulin resistance, and stimulate the release of growth factors. These growth factors are chemicals in the brain that affect the growth of new blood vessels, the health of brain cells, as well as the survival of new brain cells.
Indirectly, getting enough exercise will improve sleep quality and mood. It will also reduce stress and anxiety.
How Much Exercise Should Students Get?
Children aged between 6 and 17 should get a minimum of 60 minutes of physical aerobic activity daily and adults aged between 18 and 64 should get a minimum of 30 minutes of physical activity daily.8
It is believed that the benefits of exercise during the school day exceeds the benefits that come from increasing class time. Furthermore, the greatest cognitive benefits from physical education have been seen to come about when physical education was given either in the first half of the day or midday rather than at the end of the day.
In order to get the children moving, schools should promote steps such as recess, physical education classes, classroom breaks, after-school sports, and biking/walking to school. Physical activity should not be seen as a dispensable option but as a core educational concern. you can learning more about ways Exercise Can Help Your Child Do Better in School in below:
8 Simple Ways Exercise Can Help Your Child Do Better in School.
As the father of a six-year-old, I am passionate about identifying daily habits that can help keep my daughter healthy, happy, and prepare her to achieve her full potential. Like every parent, I want my daughter to do well in school so that she can have all the opportunities that education will provide throughout her lifespan.
What can you do as a parent to ensure that every child has the opportunity to achieve his or her best academically? Over the past three years of blogging for Psychology Today, I have touched on a broad range of daily habits that seem to improve cognitive function and improve the odds of academic achievement.
As the author of The Athlete’s Way (link is external), my focus is primarily on the neuroscience behind the mental and physical benefits of exercise at every stage of our lives. In recent months, scientific articles finding a link between physical activity and brain health have been released at breakneck speed.
In this review I define “doing better in school” based on the CDC definition of academic performance which is broadly to describe different factors that may influence student success in school. The CDC divides these factors into three primary areas:
Cognitive Skills and Attitudes (e.g., attention/concentration, memory, verbal ability).
Academic Behaviors (e.g., conduct, attendance, time on task, homework completion).
Academic Achievement (e.g.,standardized test scores, grades)
Below is a brief summary of eight studies that have been released in recent months that explore the link between physical acitivity, cognitive function, and academic performance from a variety of angles.
Ways Exercise Can Help Your Child Do Better in School
1. Combination of Motor Skills and Aerobic Fitness Improves Academics
In June of 2014, researchers from the University of Madrid reported that motor skills gained through physical activity may be of greater importance than the cardiorespiratory benefits of aerobic fitness.
The Spanish study (link is external),”Independent and Combined Influence of the Components of Physical Fitness on Academic Performance in Youth,” was published in the Journal of Pediatrics.
2. Exercise Creates More Efficient White Matter and Brain Connectivity
An August 2014 study from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign found that children who are more aerobically fit have more fibrous and compact white-matter tracts in the brain than their peers who are less fit.
The study (link is external), “Aerobic fitness is Associated with Greater White Matter Integrity in Children,” was published in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.
3. Exercise Before School Improves Focus and Reduces ADHD Symptoms
In a September 2014 study, researchers from Michigan State University and University of Vermont found that offering daily before-school, aerobic activities to younger at-risk children could help in reducing the symptoms of ADHD in the classroom and at home.
The study (link is external), “A Randomized Trial Examining the Effects of Aerobic Physical Activity on Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Symptoms in Young Children,” was published in the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology.
4. Physical Activity Should Remain Playful For Best Results
In a September 2014 study, researchers at the University of Montreal identified four dimensions of play particularly important for children as part of any physical activity. Play makes exercise seem like fun which makes it more enjoyable.
The study (link is external) from University of Montreal, “Problematizing “Play-for-Health” Discourses Through Children’s Photo-Elicited Narratives,” was published in the journal Qualitative Health Research.
5. Boys Can Especially Benefit from Regular Physical Activity
A September 2014 study from University of Finland found that physically active school transportation related to academic skills and may be beneficial for the development of reading skills in boys.
The study (link is external), “Associations of Physical Activity and Sedentary Behavior with Academic Skills – A Follow-Up Study among Primary School Children,” was published in PLOS ONE.
6. Taking “Brain Breaks” During Class Improves Classroom Performance
In September 2014, the abstract of a study (link is external),”Brain Breaks: Physical Activity in the Classroom for Elementary School Children,” was published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior.
Oregon law will mandate that by 2017 elementary schools have 30 minutes a day of physical education classes, in addition to recess periods. A survey conducted by the Healthy Youth Program found that 92 percent of Oregon public elementary schools currently do not meet this standard. The CDC confirms that this is a nationwide deficit.
7. After-School Exercise Groups Can Improve Cognitive Function
In September 2014, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign released findings that children who participate in after-school exercise groups have improved cognitive function.
The study (link is external), “Effects of the FITKids Randomized Controlled Trial on Executive Control and Brain Function,” is available from the University of Illinois News Bureau.
8. Resistance Training and Lifting Weights Can Improve Memory
In October 2014, researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology found that an intense bout of resistance training for as little as 20 minutes can enhance episodic memory, also known as long-term memory in healthy young adults.
The study (link is external), “A Single Bout of Resistance Exercise can Enhance Episodic Memory Performance, was published in the journal Acta Psychologica.
Conclusion: Exercise Is Key for the Well-Being of Our Children and Future Generations
These findings come at an important time. In a June 2014 report, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention released an alaming study about the repercussions of increasing sedentarism among American chilldren: before-school, in-school, and after-school.
If you’d like to read more on this topic, check out my Psychology Today blog posts:
“Physically Fit Children Have Enhanced Brain Powers”
“Where Do the Children Play in 2014?”
“Physical Activity Improves Cognitive Function”
“What Daily Habit Can Boost “Healthy Aging” Odds Sevenfold?”
“Five Lifestyle Choices That Will Help You Live Longer”
“Why Does Aerobic Activity Improve Cognitive Function?
“Can Physical Activities Improve Fluid Intelligence?”
“The Neuroscience of Madonna’s Enduring Success”
“I Want to Make You Want to Sweat”
“Irisin: The “Exercise Hormone” has Powerful Health Benefits”
“The Brain Drain of Inactivity”
“Physical Activity Boosts Brain Power”
“One More Reason to Unplug Your Television”
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The benefits of exercise in terms of academic performance also apply to college students. Physical education is not a part of most universities in the US, but an increasing number of colleges around the globe are introducing it to the curriculum to make youngsters more active.
According to a recent study in the North Carolina State, just an hour of exercise every week can bring about great changes.9 The study involved looking at habits of 21,000 college students. They found that an hour of exercise a week raised the overall GPA by 0.06 points. In students who didn’t exercise at all and then started exercising for 3 hours a week, the GPA was raised by 0.18.
Regular exercise is a vital part of maintaining a healthy body. A healthy body will, in turn, keep your mental capabilities strong and your highest potential for academic excellence can be met.