Leslie Mason, guest contributor

Any parent wants their child to be constantly learning, growing and developing, whether school is in session or not. With school starting up again, it’s time to start thinking about extracurricular and other after-school activities—hopefully choosing one that will encourage healthy cognitive development. Of course your child will have to choose for themselves, but here are three fun activities to suggest that will encourage their cognitive development:


Theater/Acting ClassesThere are many extracurricular activities that grow cognitive abilities the obvious way—intellectually.

There’s nothing like acting to spur cognitive development. Kids have to learn lines, react naturally in contrived situations, and reconsider their presumptions about the world. Acting, when properly directed, forces kids to become the character, putting themselves into the mind of a character with possibly different prejudices, thoughts, morals, and ideas than their own, forcing them to acknowledge that other mindsets exist.

This puts their cognitive development into what Piaget called a state of disequilibrium, which forces them to learn more about their world and helps to jump-start their cognitive development.

Maybe there’s a good children’s theater program or workshop in your area. Maybe the local high school or junior high needs one or more young children for a production. Maybe the elementary school is putting on a play. Who knows—you may be raising the next Tom Hiddleston or Meryl Streep!


Team or Individual Sports

Yes, you heard right—sports encourage your child’s cognitive development. It is all about finding a sport that your child is not only enthusiastic about, but also one that they are willing to stick with and become proficient in.

Sports will bring your child together with other children from all walks of life, and in most cases, they’ll have to work toward a common goal with these kids. Or they may have to learn to compete against them in a sportsmanlike way and continually adapt to improve their own performance.

It may take a little trial and error on your part to find a sport your child is willing to dedicate that much effort to, but when they find one it will be a blessing to them, their cognitive powers, and their future (say it with me now, “scholarships”).


Intellectual Pursuits

There are many extracurricular activities that grow cognitive abilities the obvious way—intellectually. Think scholastic decathlon, chess club, and science fair. These will get your children out there meeting youngsters of their own intellectual level and force them to recall massive amounts of information while solving problems in real time, whether it be on a team, over chess boards, or while experimenting.


About the Author

Leslie Mason is a homemaker and garden expert. Leslie enjoys writing, gardening, do-it-yourself projects, and fixing up the house.