Thursday, September 24, 2015

Endangered Childhood Movement?

Recently, I've been thinking about about the impact of movement on children's brains.  I stumbled upon this post by Angela Hanscom and have been chewing on the idea of an underdeveloped balance (vestibular) system contributing to a child's difficulty remaining still during times of focus. I often hear teachers reference movement breaks as a strategy for helping children "get their wiggles out" so they can focus on instruction. As I read more, it seems to me that brief breaks don't have much chance of helping overcome the movement deficit many children may be experiencing.
This article by the same author struck me because I recognize the examples of students playing too roughly on the playground, for example, trying to chase and catch a friend, but instead tackling and knocking the friend down.  I can't count the number of students referred to my office for rough playground behavior they explained with "I didn't do it that hard" or "I didn't mean to."  The children perceive that they are just playing, with no intent to hurt their friends, yet outcome of the behavior is aggressive and at times, injurious.
I'm not sure how schools can build in opportunities for all students to safely experience heavy work or tumbling on a regular basis to build students' proprioceptive sense.  A start might be to take a close look at the activities of recess to ensure that children are at least active. I often see students on the playground sitting, standing, or walking slowly, which I imagine does nothing to develop the vestibular system as Ms. Hanscom recommends.  I'll have to keep searching for next steps!

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