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Happy Children Learn Better
Michelle Obama has a campaign to get kids active for one hour a day. Serial Thrillerz supports this and has a few ideas that we'll discuss in our first issue to help get kids active, but it we'll not be a traditional idea of sending them outside to play when they get on their parents' nerve.
While I am not a major supporter of her husband’s economic policies, I do support the work that the first lady is doing. At my son’s school, if you add up all of his kindergarten recesses he’s lucky to get an hour of activity outside. Perhaps they count the fact that they are in the last building on campus and count the minutes it takes 30 five year olds to get to and from class, to their extracurricular activity, or lunch.
It is simply appalling to think that with the amount of time and effort that Disney Channel and Nickelodeon have spent on getting kids active that the Terrebonne Parish School system gives elementary school children less cumulative recess time than the one break during the school day that junior high and high school enjoy.
People could say that the pressures on American teenagers is greater than that of younger children but what teenagers have that younger children do not have is more patience and more maturity. They know where to get help and when even if they do not understand their assignments. They are old enough to make the decision to get help and even if they are self-conscious, they are old enough to realize the homework hotline is anonymous. Unfortunately, younger children are far too self-conscious to ask for help that they need because their peers are much crueler when one of their classmates do not understand something.
They are often forced to accept extra help without their impute and subject to their other classmates. The increases bullying, depression, and depression leads to over eating. Of course with the lessened opportunity to exercise, both their attention spans and weight can get out of control, exacerbating the other social and health problems.
Then if they are left to fester, then when they get older, how are they able to control their aggression? They do not learn because they have been too ashamed due to other reasons for needing help.
These are just some of the things that lead to school shootings and if people would pay attention, these problems began as early as kindergarten. They can fester for years and the youngest school shooter was in Arkansas and they were elementary students.
Teachers are of course under pressure to get their students to retain the required information and even they believe that students, especially on the kindergarten and first grade levels need more time to play. Just in the five year age difference between my own two children, they’ve cut recesses and cut out naps. To make matters worse, my youngest, a kindergarten goes to the one school in the district with no playground equipment for the children to play on. The things that they can do in their ten minute recesses (if it’s even that long) fight over basketballs, jump ropes, or run around. Running around is good exercise but how many five year olds can play a decent game of basketball on courts made for sixth graders? Not many.
Children need to play. It increases their retention, decreases the antsy/add tendencies to allow them to focus, and helps them build a healthy lifestyle. Terrebonne Parish schools simply either do not care about this or do not have time to worry about it because they are too concerned with performance. The things children as young as my ten year old learned in first and second grade is being force fed to my kindergartener. The things my special needs ten year old is forced to do in fifth grade frustrates him to no end because it’s more of a junior high level in most things. The curriculums are lopsided and do not allow children adequate time to refocus or decompress in between studies. These problems will only get worse and most people cannot afford private sports lessons or community teams or a private education. They are forced to stay in public school with a heavy course load and less and less recess. I’m afraid that by the time my three year old nephew is ready for kindergarten that they will only have one break in the day, shortly after lunch and then hustled like cattle back into the class room where the school board attempts to drown them in information that their young minds are unable to process.
As parents we have to do something. Our generation was used to having at least three to four recesses a day. We were allowed to play before class, a couple hours after we had started class, one after lunch, and one short one before we were released home for the day.
If this is something that impugned our mental processes then how is a girl from my 9th grade softball team a partner in a law firm at thirty-three after a successful career working for the now Arkansas governor, another from my high school drama club who had a successful career on Broadway turned entrepreneur who has been featured on shows like Martha Stewart, or two other drama club friends who have found successful careers for PBS and Discovery as producers and executives? This is only a handful of the extremely successful people from my graduating class. Who knows what those older or even younger accomplished?
It is not the amount of education you force on them. It is making them want to learn. You do not want children dreading going to school either because of bullies or because they are frustrated because they are unable to pick up the information as fast as others! There are times when my 5 year old cries himself to sleep because he is showing the early signs of dyslexia and cannot pick up the reading as fast as he is picking up addition. Although he has a couple really good friends who cover for him and if they can get away with it, they do the little papers for him. As nice and as well-meaning as his two best friends are, this is not going to help my son learn but luckily he has a good teacher who doesn’t punish them for their help. She marks his pages as needed help but gives him credit for it being completed. She also tutors him extra every day to make sure he is on task.
© 2012 Kristina Stancil