Excerpts of Studies and Pieces follow from the following contributors:
Bill Murphy Jr, of TheMid.com;
Researchers at the University of Eastern Finland;
in Time Magazine;
Angela Hanscom, a Paediatric Occupational Therapist;
Plus, a disturbing piece on 'Expanding the Definition of ADHD'.
According to Bill Murphy Jr, of TheMid.com, students, and especially boys, need hours of physical activity every day; and they do not get enough because their schools will not let them.
Apart from insufficient teacher numbers to supervise morning and afternoon breaks, many activities which were allowed previously, like running and playing chasing in the yard,
are now prohibited because of insurance cover worries.
Bill Murphy Jr outlined the following research results.
1. We overprotect children and youngsters, trying to keep them safe from all physical dangers - which ultimately increases their likelihood
of real negative health issues.
2. We inhibit children's academic growth (especially
among boys), because the lack of physical activity makes it harder for them to concentrate.
3. When they fail to conform quietly to this low-energy paradigm, we over-diagnose or even punish kids for reacting the way they are naturally built to react.
Most boys appear to be in a constant
state of motion: running, jumping, fighting, playing, pushing, getting hurt - maybe getting upset - and getting right back into the physical action.
Except when at school, where they are required to sit still for long periods of time in the classroom. When they fail to stay still, how are they punished? SADLY, OFTEN, by being denied going out to the yard for their next
break, and having to sit at their desks, while their classmates are out in the air. (My comment, ICOB.)
at the University of Eastern Finland recently tried to document whether boys actually achieve less in school when they are restricted from running around and being physically active.
They studied 153 children, aged 6 to 8, and tracked how much physical activity and sedentary time they had during the day. According to a report by Belinda Luscombe in Time, the less "moderate to vigorous physical activity" the boys had each day, the harder it was for them to develop good reading skills.
The more time children ... spent sitting and the less time they spent being physically active, the fewer gains they made in reading in the two following years. [It] also had a negative impact on their ability to do maths.
The results did not apply to girls, for which there
are a few possible explanations. It may be that girls have physiological differences, or maybe they were just as eager to move around as the boys, but they were better able to set aside that disappointment, and concentrate.
This concern is not confined to poorer
academic achievement. Many observers and researchers now say limited physical activity leads to real physical and mental harm in children and youngsters, even in the short term, before they
have grown up.
Angela Hanscom, a paediatric occupational therapist, interviewed young children to ask them what recess and play are like in the second decade of the 21st century. They
answered as follows.
"We have monkey bars, but we aren't allowed to go upside down
on them. They think we are going to hurt ourselves. I think I'm old enough to try going upside down."
"We have woods, but can't go anywhere near them. It's too dangerous."
"When it snows, we can't touch it with our foot, or we have to stand by the teacher for the rest of recess."
Restricting children’s movement like this leads them to increased anger and frustration, less ability to regulate emotions, and higher
aggressiveness, during the limited time periods in which they are allowed to play. Angela Hanscom writes "Elementary children need at least three hours of active free play a day to maintain
good health and wellness. Currently, they are only getting a fraction".
EXPANDING THE DEFINITION of ADHD
In the United States, ADHD diagnoses in children and youngsters are more likely now than
they were in years past, but one may not realise that the number of diagnoses is still rising, and at an alarming rate. In 2003, for example, it was diagnosed in about 7.8 per cent of youngsters, but that rose to 9.5 per cent in 2007, and 11 per cent
That is a 40 per cent
increase in eight years.
There are a couple of reasons to explain this dramatic increase in diagnoses.
The definition of ADHD has been changed to make it more expansive.
Many critics argue it is also because of the interests of the pharmaceutical industry, since the leading treatment
for ADHD is a prescription medication.
Angela Hanscom, in a separate article, says it is also because we
are forcing children and youngsters to sit still longer, and they are simply reacting as nature intended.
times have shortened due to increasing educational demands, and children rarely play outdoors," she writes. "Let’s face it: children are not nearly moving enough, and it is really starting to become a problem."
Angela Hanscom reminds us of the stakes, "In order for children to learn, they need to be able to pay attention. In order for them
to pay attention, we need to let them move".
It is much easier to control a classroom in which the children have to sit quietly, than one where a little bit
of managed chaos is allowed. Nobody judges teachers on whether or not they gave their students sufficient break times during the day. Teachers are always conscious of the overly protective parents who can make trouble if one of their children
falls in the school yard (My comment, ICOB).
When young students get enough time
to blow off steam and become relaxed, and when they return to the classroom, students are "less fidgety and more focused," one
teacher said. They "listen more attentively, follow directions, and try to solve problems on their own instead of coming to the teacher to fix everything".