Physical exercise can be an important tool for improving learning and attention, as it results in the production of BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factors), proteins in the brain that can help enhance memory and focus. For children who struggle with reading, vigorous physical helps support skills crucial for competent reading,
ones which tie directly to processing speed and comprehension, and the ability to recall grammar and utilize vocabulary. Thus, exercise — when combined with opportunities for exploration and discovery — can work to invigorate a child’s interest in reading while simultaneously stimulating the brain in a way to enhance reading performance.
The following physical activities are suggested as an opportunity to complement and encourage reading skills in children, offering ways to engage kids in fun family activities that provide opportunities for learning and exercise alike.
1.) Take a Hike! Hiking is a great activity for encouraging reading skills. Before you go, find a book to bring along that profiles the different animals, plants, and insects you’re likely to encounter. A nature hike that encourages the child to be physically active while looking out for such wildlife requires focus and concentration. After finishing a hike with your child, discuss what you observed during your journey, and encourage additional reading to learn more about what you have observed, asking your child to pick something to research further.
2.) Plot a Course! Go biking on old railroad trail or a historic road. There are now thousands of bike trails placed onto old railroad trails throughout the entire United States. Most of these old “rail trails” have an interesting history which can encourage further reading and exploration. Some of the best books written about this includes 1000 Great Rail Trails and Road Trip USA. You might also want to visit a local historical society to find other pictures and information about these areas that tell the history of the old rail trails or country roads you’ll be traveling. Try to bring a book along, and read about the different areas your visit takes you as you reach them. Encourage your child to continue the learning with further reading at home.
3. See the City! Many large cities have walking tours that travel through historical areas and help you to explore a city’s history. Some of the more famous city hikes include the Freedom Trail in Boston, the Muir Woods Trail near San Francisco, and The Great Wagon Road from Philadelphia to Harpers Ferry. You can often learn more about these famous trails on Wikipedia and in local travel guides by Fodors and DK Eyewitness. Many other historic city and historic walks can be found in resources such as America’s Walking.