The Importance of Movement

“When we continuously expect children to be seated for hours everyday, whether that is sitting for lengthy stints of time in the classroom, being driven from one event to the next, or doing homework till it gets dark outside — children are often found in an upright position with little sensory stimulation,” Hanscom wrote. “[Kids] need ample opportunities to move their bodies in all different directions such as going upside down, spinning in circles, rolling down hills or even climbing trees.” (from linked article)

Recess Is Not A Luxury

When my oldest son was in first grade at public school, they had indoor recess a lot. Sometimes due to weather, sometimes due to staffing issues, they would have two classes of six-year-olds sit on the floor in the gym and watch a 20 minute episode of The Magic Schoolbus. This happened rather frequently, it seemed. A few times I got a note from his teacher, telling me that I needed to talk to Max about “appropriate indoor recess behavior.” My son’s infraction? Talking to his classmates during the video, and later, kicking his shoe off while sitting in the chair he had been isolated to due to talking to his friends.

When I heard the story from my son’s perspective, he was confused about why he couldn’t talk to his friends during recess since that was supposed to be time to play, he wasn’t interested in the video, and his shoe had flown off accidentally when he was swinging his legs, which had become restless from not touching the floor. The teacher told me that playing games or otherwise doing more active things during indoor recess wasn’t an option because they were understaffed. I visited a couple of times and the “recess” was characterized by a six year old being hushed every few minutes by one of maybe two lunchtime staff.

He would often come home from school and be super wired, have meltdowns, and need to get some physical energy out after sitting much of the day. He was struggling with reading and was often totally exhausted by dinner time. Getting homework done was often a struggle, with me as the taskmaster. Our relationship suffered.

The change in him since we switched to self-directed education has been huge. He gets lots of opportunity to run and play and is never resistant to going to school. He comes home happy and relaxed, but still with enough energy to play with neighbors or his brother. He often will voluntarily sit and read quietly on his own; he has the focus to sit and draw or build a Lego creation for up to a couple of hours. He often asks me to sit with him while he does some pages in a workbook (for fun!), or asks to help with dinner. He sleeps well and gets up early. Kids need to move to be able to learn, as articles like this and my own experience confirm!

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