To Move Is The Thing


Things have changed a lot in the last 10 years regarding the expectations of how children learn, especially for young boys. When my son, now almost 14, was 3 years old, he was expected to sit still for long periods and "play nicely" with all the other children in his preschool class. When he didn't do that, we were told by the preschool director that he needed to be medicated and that he would probably be institutionalized.

Most young children have energy to burn; that's what allows them to grow into fine adults. However, the notion that there is something wrong with boys who can't sit still is now starting to be viewed as the wrong way to look at how we teach our children. Many studies have been done on how young boys learn and the results indicate that they need to move a lot of the time during the day. If you force boys to sit all day, many of them will act out, often in an aggressive manner.


Several years ago, there was the "great recess debate" at CPS. Apparently, some geniuses, that failed to read the research about the importance of recess and learning, decided that recess wasn't necessary. I don't know about you, but if I sit all day, I start to get very scattered and fidgety and I am an adult and better able to control myself. No recess = very unfocused, less productive, unhappy children. I am much more productive right after my daily 3 mile constitutional. Children are much more productive after recess. Well, duh!

I remember when my son was 2 and we had neighbors with a 2 year old daughter. We went over to their house with our son, and their daughter was sitting quietly, coloring. Then we discovered that she had been coloring quietly FOR TWO ENTIRE HOURS. My husband and I looked at each other in total disbelief. You mean, there are children who do that sort of thing? Our son, meanwhile, was literally bouncing off the walls. What I am trying to get at is that boys and girls learn completely differently. Girls are verbal learners, while boys are more spatial and functional learners. I know from my experience with my son that he needs to touch things and take them apart in order to make sense of how they work. Not so for most girls.


When I was applying to kindergarten for my son, I did not even consider a school that didn't offer recess. Slowly, the trend has reversed and I think that most schools have reinstated recess. And woo hoo! Gym is back. CPS is requiring their students to have daily physical activity through daily gym class. What a concept!!!! Now if schools would just get rid of that damn food dye, I would be a happy camper!

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