I don’t want to blow your mind, but it turns out that kids need to play.
Young people are being diagnosed with Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) at ever-increasing rates, with the percentage of kids being diagnosed growing by around 50 percent from 2003-2011. While some of this can be attributed to different diagnostic criteria and higher awareness, some almost certainly has to do with the environment in which kids are asked to succeed.
Kids as young as kindergarten are being asked to sit still for up to half an hour at a time, an unreasonable amount of time for a young child. Recess is becoming shorter so, even when kids aren’t seated, they aren’t outside being wild. Being kids.
Angela Hanscom, a pediatric occupational therapist, shares her observations:
“I recently observed a fifth grade classroom as a favor to a teacher. I quietly went in and took a seat towards the back of the classroom. The teacher was reading a book to the children and it was towards the end of the day. 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.”
They found that these students lacked core strength and balance, and are then asked to sit still nearly all day.
Florida is considering using legislation to tackle the problem. Senate Bill 78 would ask school boards to provide 100 minutes of “unstructured, free-play” recess a week (20 consecutive minutes Monday through Friday) for elementary students, in addition to physical education classes which are already required. Currently, recess is left to the local level, sometimes varying school by school depending on the principal.
If approved, the new rules would being with the 2017-18 school year.