Learn and physical activity

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Kids Learn More Effectively While Running, Jumping and Throwing

Reading helps kids learn faster if it is done in concert with exercise. That is the finding a British study that saw a group of schoolchildren running, jumping, and engaging in active movement while engaging with material from The Gruffalo, a bestselling children’s book about a buffalo grizzly bear hybrid (not a combination of Grover and Mark Ruffalo as one might hope). Roughhousing actually helped three and four-year-olds learn at twice the rate of the peers, a counterintuitive result.

“We didn’t really know what would happen when we integrated the storytelling and movement together as no one had really done this previously,” Michael Duncan, Professor in Applied Sport and Exercise Science at Coventry University and co-author of the study, told Fatherly.

Duncan and his team looked at 74 kids from three different preschools who made of three parts of the study. One cohort (27 children) engaged in storytelling activities only, another (25) took part in movement based activities only, and the third group (22) participated in a combination of the two. Each group was involved in 20-30 minute sessions of the assigned intervention, twice a week for six weeks. The combined group’s story discussions were complemented with jumping, leaping, hopping, sliding, galloping, sipping, throwing and catching based on different characters in the book, such as a mouse, owl, fox, snake and The Gruffalo. The rest of the kids either learned from sessions that focused only on storytelling, or just movement activities without reference to the story.  Motor competence and language ability were assessed before and after the six-week experiment, and again eight weeks later.

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