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Give Children The Time They Need!

Give Children The Time They Need!

First, I want to say this… Give Children Time! I also want everyone to know that this literally happened right before my eyes. During the last year of pre-mom life I spent one last year in an administrative role in a public school system dealing with the math curriculum for the entire district. Prior to that I was a high school math teacher for some years.

Our district, like every other one around it, ushered in full day kindergarten like a sweeping torrent of rain. And so I sat, plump with baby number one, surrounded by teachers and administrators in several meetings to determine how this extra school time for the five-year-old’s would be spent. Mind you, there weren’t any children in the meeting.

give children time to play

Now the kindergarten teachers, they were unanimous and unwavering. Play time and rest. Play time and rest. They echoed each other and they never strayed from this message. With both physical and anecdotal reasoning, the teachers held fast to what they believed the extra time should be used for because that is what the children need. They need station time and recess… and they need a little rest. But if you had to hedge your bets as to what the extra time eventual was allotted to what would be your guess? It was not play time, nor rest but academics.

After spending years in the public schools I quickly learned that although there are many great things that happen within the schools walls, the people who are ultimately the decision makers aren’t the ones who are actually with the children.  It sometimes seemed as though decisions got passed down from the heavens. No one really knew where they come from. So many of the high school students had the same questions, “Why do we have to learn this?” But I really didn’t have a good reason so I just got to saying, “Because the president says you can’t be left behind” – and for high school children it was a sufficient answer because they already deeply understood that much of childhood was about jumping through hoops. 

The thing is compulsory education is relatively new. Just over 100 years ago the only compulsory education law was that all children had to complete elementary school. Things have changed dramatically in just ten decades. We’ve gone from five years of compulsory education to thirteen and we now mandate such subjects as “Algebra 2 and Trigonometry” in order to graduate. Do we really know beyond a shadow of a doubt that these are the things all children need to succeed in life, especially given the incredible trade-off in time? The things we call “best practice” are at best a guess. I know that for certain because best practices, as they pertain to childhood development, change all the time. The curriculum and sequences change often with the winds of political change. 

Surprisingly, sometimes people buck the system and they still turn out furthering the point that 13 years in a classroom may not be necessary for lifelong success. Children have not always needed to pass trigonometry to successfully transition into adulthood, but they have always needed time. Give children time to grow. Time to learn who they are. Time to explore their surroundings. Give children time to figure out how to enjoy their own company and how to structure their free time. Give children time to think, to dream, dawdle, and to wonder. Children need time. And as the school day, homework, and adult-directed activities take over much of childhood, we are left with lost children.

John Taylor Gatto was a public school teacher in New York for nearly 30 years and a world renowned speaker for another 20 years afterwards giving over 1500 speeches in 9 counties. He was named the New York State Teacher of the Year twice and has written some prolific literature. Gatto was a huge advocate that at the right age and stage, and in the right environment, children could learn phenomenal amounts in short periods of time. After spending thousands of hours with children over the course of three decades and after untold amounts of research, Gatto concluded that “It only takes about 50 contact hours to transmit basic literacy and math skills well enough that kids can be self-teachers from then on.” 50 hours. Let that sink in. That’s just over one week of school. Today, children spend between 12 and 15 THOUSAND seat hours within the four walls of a classroom.

There are many other brilliant men and women who advocate for less formal learning and more hands-on experience. There are also those who advise that later is better when it comes to the type of academic work that has crept it’s way into the kindergarten classrooms. Children need time to develop their sense of self and their own self-knowledge.

 

5 ways to give children time

  1. Schedule less extracurricular activities. When kids go straight from the classroom to extracurricular, even the one’s they enjoy, they miss out on the expanses of time they need to learn who they are. Ensure that your child has afternoon and evening time several days of the week in order to play and direct their own learning.
  2. Advocate for more recess and less homework. Be a voice at your school. Bring in the research. Talk to the administrators. Take a group of parents with you. Movement is the precursor to all learning and it is vital children get a chance to move and to play throughout the day.
  3. Skip all homework at least through elementary school. Or forge it. Or give the answers.  Seven hours a day is enough. Remember that at the right developmental stage 50 hours will get a child to enough functional literacy to become a self-teacher. 35 hours a week in a classroom is more than enough time for seat-work. Leave afternoons, evenings, and weekends for play time and family time.
  4. Wait on formal education or choose from play based options like forest schools, Waldorf or Montessori.  See what is in your area. You might consider skipping preschool altogether. In some states formal education isn’t required until age six. Read books like “Better Late than Early” by Raymond and Dorothy Moore and make sure your decisions about school are well-informed and well-researched.
  5. Buck the system in whatever ways you deem necessary and trust that your children will learn anyway! Find ways where your child can learn through play. Read these books and be confident that kids are innately driven to learn. If we allow them the time and space to explore their world, they will learn the most extraordinary things.

Do you want to know what kids want to do? They want to dawdle. They want to explore. They want to sniff the dandelions and squish mud between their toes. They want to laugh and they want to run. They want to read exciting books in your lap and then move on to reading exciting books in the space between two strong branches of a tree. They want expanses of time to satisfy their curiosities and to learn how to relate to themselves and to others. And do you know why they want to do these things? Because each of these things will contribute to their development in deep and untold ways. Children desperately need their childhood hours. Let’s give them some back!

Give Children Time To Be Children

 

Author – Ginny. Mother of 5. Homeschooling in The Mitten State.

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A healthiest countries report was released on February 24, 2019 showing the USA is ranked 35th worldwide. This study, the “Bloomberg 2019 Healthiest Countries Index” ranks the 169 largest economies according to factors that contribute to overall health.

This study showed that the U.S. has dropped one ranking from 34th to 35th from the prior report in 2017. The U.S. trails almost all modern industrial nations in health. But what may seem shocking is that the U.S. also is behind the nations of Costa Rica, Cuba, Croatia, Chile, Estonia, and the Czech Republic. The countries that are just below the U.S. include Bahrain, Qatar, Maldives, and Lebanon.

healthiest countries

 

Healthiest Countries | Topping the List

Spain tops the list as the healthiest nation in the world, surpassing Italy who was on top in the prior report. The top ten healthiest nations according to the report are: Spain, Italy, Iceland, Japan, Switzerland, Sweden, Australia, Singapore, Norway, and Israel.

In creating the ranking, the index grades countries on multiple factors such as life expectancy, obesity, tobacco use, availability to clean water, environmental factors, and sanitation. Japan and Switzerland have the overall longest life expectancy, with Spain being just behind them and expected to overtake them in the coming years.

In explaining why Spain does so well in health ranking, the European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies 2018 review of Spain noted that in that country, “Primary care is essentially provided by public providers, specialized family doctors and staff nurses, who provide preventive services to children, women and elderly patients, and acute and chronic care.”

The report points out that the U.S. life expectancy has been decreasing over the past several years. This decrease and the subsequent lowering of the health ranking as compared to other nations is primarily due to deaths from drug overdoses and suicides.

Another factor sited as a reason for the U.S. performing badly is the epidemic of obesity. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 40 percent of adults in the U.S. are obese. This equates to about 93.3 million obese Americans.

Dr. George Curry, a chiropractor and president of the International Chiropractors Association added a chiropractic perspective on the U.S. ranking. “The U.S. spends the most money by far on medical care. Additionally, Americans take vastly more drugs than people in any other nation. These factors, combined with diet and a tendency to over-treat many conditions, leads to a less healthy population that we see reflected in this report.”

 

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