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How active are your kids? Spin off ish

Posted by on Jan. 31, 2016 at 11:58 AM
Max
  • 28 Replies

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2014/10/07/the-right-and-surprisingly-wrong-ways-to-get-kids-to-sit-still-in-class/?postshare=8381453895176269&tid=ss_fb-bottom

The right — and surprisingly wrong — ways to get kids to sit still in class   

A post I published in July titled “Why so many kids can’t sit still in school today” seems to have struck a nerve with readers, who continue to read it in big numbers.  The piece was by Angela Hanscom, a pediatric occupational therapist, who said that kids are being forced to sit for too long while they are in school and are being deprived of enough time for real physical activity. This, she said, is affecting their ability to learn and in some cases leading to improper ADHD diagnoses.

Here is a follow-up post by Hanscom in which she talks about how to get kids moving in class and some of the mistakes teachers are making. Some of her suggestions may be controversial. For example, she takes issue with a method that some teachers say they are using with success — having students sit on bouncy balls. Hanscom is the founder of TimberNook, a nature-based development program designed to foster creativity and independent play outdoors in New England.


By  Angela Hanscom

My last post, “Why so many kids can’t sit still in school today,” has and continues to generate tremendous feedback from around the world. Many people wrote that the connection between moving and learning that I wrote about just makes sense. However, with this new enlightenment on whymovement and play outdoors is critical to learning and attention in the classroom, came the million-dollar question: “Now what?”

My virtual mailbox instantly got bombarded with email requests–demanding ideas on how to get kids moving both in and outside the classroom. I also noticed people were getting creative. Ideas were being tossed around. Some people suggested, “How about sitting on bouncy balls?” Others asked, “What if children stand to learn?” or “What if we put bike pedals on the classroom seats, so they can exercise while learning?” And finally, “What about taking short movement breaks?”

My initial reaction to these brainstorming sessions was, Finally! People are inspired and are starting to think outside the box. However, as I recalled whyI wrote the article in the first place, I realized these strategies were still partly missing the point. They may be creative and thoughtful, but they won’t fix the underlying problem.

In order to create actual changes to the sensory system that results in improved attention over time,  children NEED to experience what we call “rapid vestibular (balance) input” on a daily basis. In other words, they need to go upside down, spin in circles, and roll down hills. They need authentic play experiences that get them moving in all different directions in order to stimulate the little hair cells found in the vestibular complex (located in the inner ear). If children do this on a regular basis and for a significant amount of time, then (and only then) will they experience the necessary changes needed to effectively develop the balance system–leading to better attention and learning in the classroom.

In other words, adjusting children’s seating and taking quick one-minute movement breaks will offer some support — but we will continue to see significant sensory and behavioral problems, as well as a decline in children’s overall health (i.e., rise in obesity, decrease strength, and poor body awareness) if we don’t start allowing for adequate time in which children can get up and out of their seats to move.

Recently, I was invited to an educational meeting regarding a first-grade boy whom I see as a private occupational therapy client. The principal, parents, his former kindergarten teacher, new first grade teacher, school psychologist, and private therapist were all there. This little boy struggles with attention in the classroom and making social connections with peers.

This same boy attended one of our TimberNook camps (developmental nature programming) this past summer. He was totally immersed into nature for a week with peers—playing in the woods, the river, and in giant mud puddles. He had plenty of practice to move his body in all different directions and to explore nature unhindered by adult fears. In the beginning of the week, he consistently pursued total control over his play experiences with peers. He was also very anxious about trying new things, had trouble playing independently, and had multiple sensory issues.

Amazingly, by the end of the week, he started to let go of this need to control all social situations. He also started tolerating and asking to go barefoot, made new friends, and became less anxious with new experiences. The changes were really quite remarkable. All he needed was time and practice to play with peers in the woods – in order to foster his emotional, physical, and social development.

When it came time for me to make suggestions to the school about how they could best meet this little boy’s needs, my answer was simple: “He needs more time to play and move his body. Fifteen minutes of recess is not enough. I recommend an hour-long recess session everyday.”

Most of these teachers had already read my article about why kids fidget and agree with this philosophy. It didn’t matter. When they heard my response, they started laughing – all of them. I think my face went bright red. “That is never going to happen,” said one of the teachers. “Yes,” agreed another teacher. “Unfortunately, our hands our tied.” The principal just sat there and said nothing at all. That’s it? I thought to myself. They know that children NEED this, but they aren’t going to do anything about it?

After the meeting, the teachers came up to me and apologized for laughing. They said: “We agree with you. We would love to allow for longer recess sessions, but there is nothing we can do. We simply don’t have the time.”

I started talking to other teachers about this same issue. Most teachers are just as frustrated, if not more than the parents. Secondary to testing requirements, teachers are feeling the pressure to have to fit in loads of curriculum everyday. They have little time to do project-based learning, let alone providing adequate time for children to move. Unfortunately, many teachers have to settle for fitting in a few minutes of movement here and there.

However, when do we draw the line? When do we say, “Enough is enough?” Shortened recess times, cutting gym classes, and other specials (i.e., music and art) means we are no longer respecting the needs of the whole child. Our system of testing is failing our children. It fails to test their social skills, their ability to think for themselves, and their physical skills (i.e., strength, endurance, coordination). Aren’t these just as important as their ability to read, write, and do arithmetic? We need to be careful not to put total emphasis on just a few subjects, while neglecting children’s other needs.

Lindsey Lieneck, MS, OTR, RYT, founder of Yogapeutics, a fellow pediatric occupational therapist and advocate for movement, recently commented, “Come on people! We are a brilliant society! We can create technology that is out of this world. Yet, we can’t figure out how to provide enough time for children to move?”

I agree with Lindsey. We CAN create more time for children to move during the school day. Saying, “our hands are tied” is just about as bad as a child saying, “I can’t.” Let’s not give up the fight before we even start. We had ample time to move and play during the school day when I was a child in the early 1980s, and we can figure out how to do it again.

What are YOU going to do about it?

  


Here are my thoughts. I highlighted in red an important paragraph about how movement effects brain development. This has been something we've been focusing on at our school for the last few years. We've increased recess time, added more brain breaks (activities between lessons) and looked at ways to integrate more movement into instructions. 

But I have two issues with the schools adding more of these kinds of movements. The first unfortunately is liability. If we are going to have kids spinning and hanging upside down we are also going to have kids falling and getting hurt. A recent post in this group proves that when kids get hurt at school a significant portion of parents immediately think of lawyers and law suits. Not only can schools not financially afford that kind of liability, school employees can't afford to risk their jobs over it.

The other issue I have is the implication from the article that this is an issue created by the schools. Kids today need to play more at school, but they also need to play at home. When I was a child we left the house in the morning and sometimes didn't come back until dark. We were on bikes all over the neighbor, climbing trees and all over various swing sets in everyone's yards. That's not the case any more. We've become a lot more cautious with our kids and most children's play options are far more restricted than they used to be. Plus, electronic devices take up more and more of our kids free time.

So I don't view this as a strictly school based issues. Parents need to support the idea the kids need more active, full body movement type, play too. Schools can't make this change without the support of parents and the understanding that sometimes kids will get hurt. 

by on Jan. 31, 2016 at 11:58 AM
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Replies (1-10):
Bieg9093
by on Jan. 31, 2016 at 12:36 PM

Printing this out to leave on the faculty room lunch table.  This is great, especially because it refers specifically to the vestibular input.

Besides the fact that parents should be ensuring enough proper active, fast, loud, questionably safe playtimes...they must do so EARLY!  Gotta let really little kids go high, go fast, and fall down.  If they don't do it when they are 2 and 3, they aren't as good at it when they are 6 and 9 and 11.

 


Don't text and drive. 


That doesn't mean you can look at your phone at red lights or stop signs or if you think you can do it quickly or if traffic's slow.  Just don't.  You're an adult.  Exercise some impulse control.  Quit driving like a 4 year old. 

Jinx-Troublex3
by Platinum Member on Jan. 31, 2016 at 1:25 PM
Yes, active kids get hurt. Parents need to understand that experiences, including injury, build character and make life interesting!

I hate the sue happy society we live in. When my oldest was in school, there was no running on the blacktop. Not even to play basketball! They could play soccer on the grass but both tag and touch football were banned because of the touching. Sad!

I was in school and we hung upside down off the monkey bars. I remember a friend fell and broke her arm. No lawsuit. I went across them one day, in the summer and they were scorching hit! I got pretty severe 2nd degree burns on both hands. Mom n dad took me to the Dr and I missed a day or two..no lawsuit. Stuff happens!
maxswolfsuit
by Max on Jan. 31, 2016 at 2:06 PM

I wonder about the age of the moms who are so quick to go after the school when stuff like this happens. If they are young enough to have to gone to school when "no running on the blacktop" was the rule than maybe that's why they are so quick to assume all injuries are the result of negligence. 

When my son broke his hand falling off the slide during recess I asked the nurse and his teacher not to tell the teacher who was watching him at the time about it. I knew she would feel responsible. Of course she foulnd out and called me in tears apologizing. I doubt she was scared I'd sue, but she felt like it was somehow her fault my son is so clumsy he somehow fell off the slide. It's so sad that there's no such thing as an accident any more. 

Quoting Jinx-Troublex3: Yes, active kids get hurt. Parents need to understand that experiences, including injury, build character and make life interesting! I hate the sue happy society we live in. When my oldest was in school, there was no running on the blacktop. Not even to play basketball! They could play soccer on the grass but both tag and touch football were banned because of the touching. Sad! I was in school and we hung upside down off the monkey bars. I remember a friend fell and broke her arm. No lawsuit. I went across them one day, in the summer and they were scorching hit! I got pretty severe 2nd degree burns on both hands. Mom n dad took me to the Dr and I missed a day or two..no lawsuit. Stuff happens!


wakymom
by Ruby Member on Jan. 31, 2016 at 3:52 PM

I know some parents who would freak out over what I told my kids today: "It's nice out. Grab a walkie talkie and go outside," meaning get on your bikes (except for dd, who can't ride with that boot on), get some exercise, and find someone to play with. Dd got hurt horsing around with a friend- it never occurred to me to blame the friend, just as it never occurred to me to blame the friends she was running around with when she was 3 and ended up with stitches from hitting the corner of the wall. She was the one horsing around and playing rougher than she should've, so she's the one at fault.

At the beginning of the school year, the 3rd and 4th graders had silent lunch for a couple days. They were consistently being too loud in the lunch room, and then some of them had a serious disagreement at recess one day (never did get the story on that one straight- something to do with the game of football a bunch of the boys were playing). I can see one silent lunch for the being too loud after repeatedly being told to quiet down, but several days for a recess argument that not everyone was involved in? Really?

Our elementaries get one 30 minute recess, usually right before or after lunch. Because Kindergarten eats so early, theirs is about an hour after lunch. They get PE only once a week. I remember getting a 15 min recess in the morning, 30 mins at lunch, and another 15 min one in the afternoon; PE was twice a week and replaced one of the 15 min recesses (of course PE lasted longer than 15 mins). I think kids today would greatly benefit from the same.

I feel sorry for the 5th and 6th graders in our district, though. Because they are in the middle school, they get only 10 mins of recess at the end of lunch- if they take too long eating, they get nothing. PE is combined with Health class and is one semester; they have so many days of PE in a row, then a few days of Health, then back to PE. If it's not their semester for PE, the only exercise break they get is that 10 min recess.




mom2jessnky
by Platinum Member on Jan. 31, 2016 at 4:22 PM

I have a trampoline in my backyard, CLEARLY I'm not some litigious neurotic train wreck mom. ;)

My kids bounce on the trampoline, they go to the park, they ride scooters, they play. And thankfully at their school you're still allowed to run, even on the blacktop. They have a play structure that can be climbed, I think the only thing the playground doesn't have is swings, but the park near our house does so no worries.

Have my kids gotten scrapes and bruises? Yep, that's okay, it happens. When the school nurse has called me because my kids got hurt during PE or Recess I'm always 'Do I need to take them to the doctor?.... No? Okay I'll see them after school.' My kids have heard "dust it off" quite a bit since they were very little. Oh you fell while riding your scooter? Dust it off, you're fine. And they go right back to playing. My brother is the same way with his boys. I keep my kids active, I hope they're getting enough active time at school, but if not at least they get it at home.


liss05
by Bronze Member on Jan. 31, 2016 at 4:25 PM
1 mom liked this

We do the Walkie-talkie thing too! My 10yo loves it gives him freedom


Quoting wakymom:

I know some parents who would freak out over what I told my kids today: "It's nice out. Grab a walkie talkie and go outside," meaning get on your bikes (except for dd, who can't ride with that boot on), get some exercise, and find someone to play with. Dd got hurt horsing around with a friend- it never occurred to me to blame the friend, just as it never occurred to me to blame the friends she was running around with when she was 3 and ended up with stitches from hitting the corner of the wall. She was the one horsing around and playing rougher than she should've, so she's the one at fault.

At the beginning of the school year, the 3rd and 4th graders had silent lunch for a couple days. They were consistently being too loud in the lunch room, and then some of them had a serious disagreement at recess one day (never did get the story on that one straight- something to do with the game of football a bunch of the boys were playing). I can see one silent lunch for the being too loud after repeatedly being told to quiet down, but several days for a recess argument that not everyone was involved in? Really?

Our elementaries get one 30 minute recess, usually right before or after lunch. Because Kindergarten eats so early, theirs is about an hour after lunch. They get PE only once a week. I remember getting a 15 min recess in the morning, 30 mins at lunch, and another 15 min one in the afternoon; PE was twice a week and replaced one of the 15 min recesses (of course PE lasted longer than 15 mins). I think kids today would greatly benefit from the same.

I feel sorry for the 5th and 6th graders in our district, though. Because they are in the middle school, they get only 10 mins of recess at the end of lunch- if they take too long eating, they get nothing. PE is combined with Health class and is one semester; they have so many days of PE in a row, then a few days of Health, then back to PE. If it's not their semester for PE, the only exercise break they get is that 10 min recess.




canadianmom1974
by Silver Member on Jan. 31, 2016 at 5:06 PM
At the schools here (early and middle years, K-8) they get a 15 minute recess in both morning and afternoon plus a 30 minute recess at lunch (that doesn't include eating time), so an hour of unstructured recess time each day. Plus they get gym 4-5 days out of a 6 day cycle.

Then, for my kids, they are walking or running home from the bus stop, sliding on snow hills, biking, building snow forts, playing sports, etc.

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MommyHuman
by Silver Member on Jan. 31, 2016 at 5:18 PM
I can kind of relate to that.

On Friday Ds was outside playing at school recess. They let the kids climb on the snowbanks in the winter as long as the child has boots. My son likes to climb anything and everything. he climbed up on this 2ft snowbank and was laying with another boy. The boy tripped, accidentally knocked DS down and he fell off the snowbank and scraped his face on the cement.

His teacher texted DH and I right after he came in.

Teach: B and K, I'm texting to you to tell you Alex had an incident on the playground at morning recess.

Me: Okay, what happened?

Teach: (See above)

DH: IS he okay, does he need medical treatment/.

Teach: Oh no. He just has a small scrape on his cheek. We are icing it right now. he didn't even cry.

While i appreciate the teacher letting us know right away, it seems overboard for a small scrape. Two days later you can barely see it, but it's crazy how sue happy people would get over it. I don't blame the school, teachers, oe even the other kid for what happened. Kids get hurt. it's a fact of life. They do need more movement and playtime though, and between the amount of school work and activities outside of school its so hard to get the play time in. If they can get it in you have parents who want to sue over minor injuries.

Quoting maxswolfsuit:

I wonder about the age of the moms who are so quick to go after the school when stuff like this happens. If they are young enough to have to gone to school when "no running on the blacktop" was the rule than maybe that's why they are so quick to assume all injuries are the result of negligence. 

When my son broke his hand falling off the slide during recess I asked the nurse and his teacher not to tell the teacher who was watching him at the time about it. I knew she would feel responsible. Of course she foulnd out and called me in tears apologizing. I doubt she was scared I'd sue, but she felt like it was somehow her fault my son is so clumsy he somehow fell off the slide. It's so sad that there's no such thing as an accident any more. 

Quoting Jinx-Troublex3: Yes, active kids get hurt. Parents need to understand that experiences, including injury, build character and make life interesting!

I hate the sue happy society we live in. When my oldest was in school, there was no running on the blacktop. Not even to play basketball! They could play soccer on the grass but both tag and touch football were banned because of the touching. Sad!

I was in school and we hung upside down off the monkey bars. I remember a friend fell and broke her arm. No lawsuit. I went across them one day, in the summer and they were scorching hit! I got pretty severe 2nd degree burns on both hands. Mom n dad took me to the Dr and I missed a day or two..no lawsuit. Stuff happens!

maxswolfsuit
by Max on Jan. 31, 2016 at 5:24 PM

There have been several posts in this group about when the school nurse should call parents. Every time quite a few mom insist they should get a call every single time anything happens. 

I would bet the teachers had to deal with enough irate moms who didn't get calls over every little thing. She's learned it's better to be safe than sorry. 

Quoting MommyHuman: I can kind of relate to that. On Friday Ds was outside playing at school recess. They let the kids climb on the snowbanks in the winter as long as the child has boots. My son likes to climb anything and everything. he climbed up on this 2ft snowbank and was laying with another boy. The boy tripped, accidentally knocked DS down and he fell off the snowbank and scraped his face on the cement. His teacher texted DH and I right after he came in. Teach: B and K, I'm texting to you to tell you Alex had an incident on the playground at morning recess. Me: Okay, what happened? Teach: (See above) DH: IS he okay, does he need medical treatment/. Teach: Oh no. He just has a small scrape on his cheek. We are icing it right now. he didn't even cry. While i appreciate the teacher letting us know right away, it seems overboard for a small scrape. Two days later you can barely see it, but it's crazy how sue happy people would get over it. I don't blame the school, teachers, oe even the other kid for what happened. Kids get hurt. it's a fact of life. They do need more movement and playtime though, and between the amount of school work and activities outside of school its so hard to get the play time in. If they can get it in you have parents who want to sue over minor injuries.
Quoting maxswolfsuit:

I wonder about the age of the moms who are so quick to go after the school when stuff like this happens. If they are young enough to have to gone to school when "no running on the blacktop" was the rule than maybe that's why they are so quick to assume all injuries are the result of negligence. 

When my son broke his hand falling off the slide during recess I asked the nurse and his teacher not to tell the teacher who was watching him at the time about it. I knew she would feel responsible. Of course she foulnd out and called me in tears apologizing. I doubt she was scared I'd sue, but she felt like it was somehow her fault my son is so clumsy he somehow fell off the slide. It's so sad that there's no such thing as an accident any more. 

Quoting Jinx-Troublex3: Yes, active kids get hurt. Parents need to understand that experiences, including injury, build character and make life interesting! I hate the sue happy society we live in. When my oldest was in school, there was no running on the blacktop. Not even to play basketball! They could play soccer on the grass but both tag and touch football were banned because of the touching. Sad! I was in school and we hung upside down off the monkey bars. I remember a friend fell and broke her arm. No lawsuit. I went across them one day, in the summer and they were scorching hit! I got pretty severe 2nd degree burns on both hands. Mom n dad took me to the Dr and I missed a day or two..no lawsuit. Stuff happens!


mommy053008
by Maria on Jan. 31, 2016 at 5:51 PM
Yes I agree children need more time to move and wiggle with their WHOLE bodies. I make it a point to give my children those opportunities.
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