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2022 Blogs Junior Senior

What After-school Activities Best Support Child Development?

Year 7 went on a team building trip to Osmington Bay PGL centre for a weekend of activities and friendships.

What After-school Activities Best Support Child Development?

Year 7 went on a team building trip to Osmington Bay PGL centre for a weekend of activities and friendships.

What After-school Activities Best Support Child Development?

What we choose to do with our free time is a question we all struggle with, at any age, but perhaps it is one which is at its most pertinent when we are young. To instil a ‘tween’ or teenager with an active lifestyle is to provide that person with much more than just the tools for staving off boredom: research has shown that participation in regular extra-curricular activity aids the development of children in all areas of their lives.

Added to this question is a further complication that is new to the younger generations: the 21st century. With seemingly everything you can think of available at the click of a button, it’s never been easier to find what you’re looking for, but with so much choice, it sometimes feels as though it’s never been more difficult to be sure that our decisions are the best for our children’s advancement and well-being.

Fortunately, despite the evolution in the methods of delivery, the fundamentals have changed little when it comes to the merits of extra-curricular activities. With that in mind, we’ve compiled a selection of ideas that will hopefully get the ball rolling…

Reading and Writing: the Power of Words

Although it is an area of research still in its infancy, the benefits of reading and writing seem to keep growing the more we look into them. Emory University’s Center for Neuropolicy have stated that the beneficial effects of reading – such as a heightened connection in the area of the brain associated with language reception – continue for several days following the activity.  Moreover, the same study suggests that neurons responsible for primary sensory motor activity become active, too, meaning we not only get an understanding of the narrative of the text on a linguistic level, but we actually get an experience of the sensations described in them as well.

Writing is similarly beneficial and is something that – like reading – takes little monetary investment to encourage.  Keeping a diary is an easy way to introduce a child to a writing routine and will promote an expressive confidence and emotional literacy that will be an increasingly advantageous by-product as a youngster nears and begins the confusions and frustrations of adolescence.

Speaking of diaries: the Guardian newspaper runs a column called the ‘Young Country Diary’ where they ask children aged 8-14 to send pieces they have written about a recent encounter they have had with nature. If your child has a passion for writing or wildlife, the chance to get published in a world-renowned publication could be a strong incentive; if your child doesn’t, it may be a great place to start:

theguardian.com/environment/series/young-country-diary

Sports, Play and Lifestyle

The importance of a physically active lifestyle cannot be overstated. From the release of our brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters – endorphins – to the development of team-building skills and improvements to brain health and learning capacity, there isn’t an area that doesn’t benefit.

Some of us are more naturally physically capable than others, a truth that reaches its zenith in our teenage years, when our bodies change the most. It can be an area of sensitivity for many younger people, so joining a local team might not be for everyone, but when – according to Public Health England – over 90% of UK children say they enjoy physical activity and the World Health Organisation have said that 85% don’t get enough of it (both figures that have worsened since the pandemic), it’s clear that the issue isn’t that children don’t want to be more active. Finding an activity suited to the specific child in question – be it dance or martial arts or gymnastics – is the key here.

Classes and Clubs

Once an interest takes hold in a young person’s mind, it can quickly become a case of doing your best to keep up with it. It is entirely normal for a child’s curiosity to take them beyond the specifics of their given syllabus, in which case providing them with a platform where they can investigate said curiosity might be worth considering – for their academic performance, fairly obviously, but also with regards to the advancement of their social skills and the psychological benefits of feeling part of a group.

For those who have an aptitude in STEM courses – Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics – STEM Learning have amassed a series of fun, hands-on activities that can be done from home.  There are some available for specific age groups and others that are suitable for all. Find more detailed information on their website: stem.org.uk/home-learning/family-activities

For those more inclined towards getting out into the wild and exploring, organisations like Scouts, Guides and Brownies have a long history of making productive use of youngster’s out-of-school time. There are several iterations of the concept nationwide and the chances are good that you wouldn’t have to look far to find one near you.

Digital Creative Media: A Rich, Often Free, Resource

When we think of the world of art and film and animation, we tend to think of the big-budget productions of Hollywood and the like. Consequently, the idea that you or I could dip our toes into the process without breaking the bank doesn’t come easy. The truth, however, is that such opportunities do exist and there are plenty of pieces of software out there designed with education as the primary motivator over profits. Here are 3 of the best:

  • Blender: A fully-fledged animation production suite. Create 3D worlds, design games and animate like the professionals, using traditional 2D methods or the more modern techniques of the major contemporary studios.  100% free: blender.org
  • Krita: A professional painting program, made by artists who want to see affordable art tools for everyone.  Again, absolutely free: krita.org
  • DaVinci Resolve: An all-in-one solution for every aspect of high-end media creation, pre- and post-production. Free download, but with limitations: blackmagicdesign.com/products/davinciresolve

Benefits of Gaming: A Console-ation Prize?

Gaming seldom gets a good press. If you were to take a great many of them at face value it wouldn’t be hard to see why.  A recent study, however – carried out by the National Literacy Trust, Penguin Random House and the Association of UK Interactive Entertainment – has revealed that playing video games can support young people’s literacy skills, creativity and empathy, as well as develop their problem-solving abilities and memory retention.  According to researchers from University of Manchester and King’s College London, this benefit is noticeable on a wider, more general brain-health level when considered with regards to ‘exergames’, such as the Nintendo Wii.

The Value of Free Time 

The world is full of things to do, to the extent that choosing the most beneficial – or least detrimental – for our children can feel like an impossible task. A wide set of activities from a diverse spread of disciplines not only utilises the benefits of each but maximises your chances of introducing your child to a passion that could last a lifetime

Ollie is a QEH 'lifer', as he joined QEH Juniors in Year 3, eleven years ago.  It's been great to watch his development through the years, both on and off the pitch.

Thank you Friends of QEH!

Ollie is a QEH 'lifer', as he joined QEH Juniors in Year 3, eleven years ago.  It's been great to watch his development through the years, both on and off the pitch.

Ollie signs for the Bears!

As well as being Head of Religion and Philosophy, Zak leads our digital vision. He was instrumental in developing our excellent online learning offering during lockdown, much to the relief of our parents, and is now leading the roll out of our school device programme.

We will remember them

Our Year 7 students were busy bees during their enrichment sessions last week, making eco-friendly lip balm from beeswax, olive oil and coconut oil.

Eco Updates

The excellent extra-curricular programme remains a particular strength of the school, adding an extra dimension to the learning experience of the pupils.
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