Kick Up Your Child's Brainpower

Help little ones excel in and out of the classroom with these three tips. 

Not only does physical activity keep youngsters fit—it also might improve performance at school. Kids who engage in regular aerobic exercise do better in class and score higher on tests, research shows. Here's how to help your children get an academic edge.

 

Take active study breaks.
When your kids start to lose focus, encourage them to toss a Frisbee, shoot some hoops, play soccer or run around the yard—rather than turning on the television or surfing the Web. Experts recommend a 10-minute break for every 30 minutes of hitting the books.

 

Set a precedent on the weekends
Saturday bike rides or hikes, along with occasional special trips to an ice-skating rink or a rock-climbing wall, help instill the idea that physical exercise is an enjoyable part of life, not a chore.

 

Foster some healthy competition
Teachers use contests to motivate students in class; why not do the same at home? Buy inexpensive pedometers for each family member (basic models go for a few dollars) and chart everyone's steps. At the end of the week, whoever walked the farthest wins. It can be a fun victory for children, who clock more steps on average than office-bound parents.