A common question that parents ask is, how much play time is good for their children as they approach assessment cycle in schools. It is no surprise that the student and the parent have two different opinions on it. But what is important is to understand that both physical and mental activity helps in thinking skills.
Generally the approach taken depends on the situation and the timing. It has a cyclic nature to it. What we need to keep in mind is the fact that, physical activity is important for everyone. We also know for a fact that mental activity is important for everyone. So, more physical activity during the lean academic phase and no physical activity during the exam phase may not be a good idea. You don’t need to start doing one more over the other.
A study published in JAMA Internal Medicine indicates that the amount of activity is more important than the type of activity to stimulate the brain. Physical activity for as little as thirty minutes everyday will support thinking skills. Cognitive activities will support thinking skills too, if you keep in mind the underlining principle that it has to be an active engagement and not a passive engagement. So, playing a video game or watching television will not add to active engagement supporting cognitive function.
Physical and mental activities are equally important for our health. Students get enough of mental activity during exam time but they start rationing on the time for physical activity. Schools too start using the activity and sports lessons for extra classes. The result; weight gain, lethargy, anxiety. None of these will support thinking skills or help build memory.
Our performance depends on how we are feeling at that time. If we feel mentally and or physically drained, we can’t expect to give our best.
Therefore, what may be of value is to have routines. Set time for play and study. Keep it sacrosanct.
Get the basics right and then add the fillers.
Be mentally and physically ready for the day ahead. And that means exam time too.