I found these series of posts by Valarie Strauss in the Washington Post via @SirKenRobinson (on Twitter) promoting the work of pediatric occupational therapist Angela Hanscom. They make a very interesting read about how inactivity and a “full” curriculum is contributing to a lack of basic muscle strength, underdeveloped sensory systems, poor posturing, and inefficient sensory processing of the world around them due to the amount of time spent sitting. Below are some quotes from the posts to give you a taste of what is in the articles.
If you are interested in reading the full articles the links are provided at the bottom of this post.
“A perfect stranger pours her heart out to me over the phone. She complains that her 6-year-old son is unable to sit still in the classroom. The school wants to test him for ADHD (attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder).”
“I recently observed a fifth grade classroom as a favour to a teacher.The teacher was reading a book to the children. I’ve never seen anything like it. Kids were tilting back their chairs back at extreme angles, others were rocking their bodies back and forth, a few were chewing on the ends of their pencils, and one child was hitting a water bottle against her forehead in a rhythmic pattern.”
“We quickly learned after further testing, that most of the children in the classroom had poor core strength and balance.”
“They need hours of play outdoors in order to establish a healthy sensory system and to support higher-level attention and learning in the classroom.”
“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.”
“In fact, none of our bodies are made to stay sedentary for lengths of time. This lack of movement and unrelenting sitting routine, are wreaking havoc on their bodies and minds.”
Admittedly these posts are directed at the American culture and schooling system where curriculum is often more focused on “high stakes testing” than in Australia and where some schools eliminate recess, P.E., the Arts etc to find more time to focus on “core” curriculum. That being said we can take a lot of important messages from these articles about how we parent and school our children in Australia.