Parents know that extracurricular activities offer a wide range of benefits for children. They teach them to work with their peers, manage their time, set goals and work toward them, and so much more.
If your child is a “thinker” who enjoys activities that stretch the mind and develop those all-important critical thinking skills, you’re in luck. There are many extracurricular activities that will nurture your child’s intellect. Here are a few great activities for children who like to stretch their minds:
It probably comes as no surprise to learn that chess is an excellent activity for students who enjoy mental stimulation. Chess strengthens one’s creative and critical thinking ability, memory, concentration, mental precision and academic endurance. Many studies report that chess helps strengthen certain areas of the brain as well. If your child appreciates logical thinking and strategy, chess is a wonderful lifelong activity.
Is your child constantly negotiating fewer chores and developing convincing arguments for additional screen time? Is he or she the type to take nothing at face value? If so, your school’s debate team or club might be the perfect activity. In debate, students compete in formal contests of argumentation. Individual students develop arguments on specific topics and deliver those arguments in front of a panel of judges. Each team takes a position on the topic presented (pro or con) and then the teams present their statements and supporting points, either individually or as a team. Debate builds students’ public speaking abilities as well as their research skills, critical thinking and much more.
For students interested in government, law or even business, a Model United Nations (UN) Club might be a great fit. The United Nations Association describes Model UN as “a simulation of the UN General Assembly and other multilateral bodies.” Students play the role of ambassadors from UN member states and debate current issues by preparing speeches, drafting resolutions, and negotiating with allies and adversaries. Students compete at Model UN conferences, which are offered throughout the country and around the world.
Are an excellent opportunity for students interested in engineering as well as those who enjoy designing and building things and learning how things work. Lego programs provide tools that develop lateral and three dimensional thinking in a fun environment. Not only do Legos improve literacy as kids work with instructions, it boosts motor development, and enhances communication and critical thinking. Many schools and libraries sponsor Lego based activities. FIRST Lego League are competitions for children ages 9 to 14 years old and are geared to inspire interest and participation in science and technology using Lego based products.
Does your student like to read and/or talk about what he or she reads? Check out the school book club or literary club. Some schools’ literary clubs focus on reading and discussing books, while others also invite budding writers to submit their works for reading and critiquing. For those who enjoy thoughtful discourse about the books that they read, literature clubs are a good way to improve communication, reading and writing skills and learn to develop and support opinions.
Many extracurricular activities teach your child valuable skills such as how to persevere in the face of challenges and think through problems with multiple possible solutions. Encourage your child to find activities that suit his or her interests and strengths and offer opportunities for growth. Your child will undoubtedly reap many academic and non-academic benefits.
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