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Wednesday, March 16

Lack of normal physical activity robbing U.S. kids of basic motor skills. Hanging onto our humanity, Part 3

Training small children to be 'productive' members of society 
Kindergarten literacy class in America

AP Photo: Jeff Morehead

Motor skills are not the only basic human accomplishment falling by the wayside. From the Washington Post's May 4, 2015 report, "This really isn’t kindergarten anymore" by Valerie Strauss quoting pediatric occupational therapist Angela Hanscom:


We have a big problem here. Children are expected to do more than ever before at a very young age. What we recall as the precious skill building and playful days of kindergarten are gone. Creating a heavy academic environment early in life with little time to play is already developmentally inappropriate and most likely damaging. On top of this, more and more children are not spending nearly enough time playing outdoors as years past. Therefore, a lot of children are lacking the sensory and motor experiences they need from hours of outdoor play to develop into strong and capable children. Instead, many children are having difficulties with balance, attention, coordination, and strength before they even enter kindergarten.
[Why so many kids can’t sit still in school today]
This is creating a big divide – we are expecting more from children at an earlier age, yet children are less prepared to learn than ever before. Hence, one of the many reasons why there has been a huge rise in the need for occupational therapy services over the past decade. 
The mismatch has many consequences. When children are expected to do things that they are not ready for, they can become labeled as a “problem child” or as having a learning disability even when they don’t. They may also be pulled out of the classroom for special intervention (i.e., reading) if they aren’t keeping up. They can think they are a failure even before they begin their school careers. They can be turned off of learning from the start – setting them up for years of frustrations and disengagement. Nothing good comes from providing curriculum that is not developmentally appropriate.
What should kindergarten be about? Kindergarten is not a time to memorize facts and figures. It is not a time to figure out who needs intervention – it is too early for that. It is not a time to “buckle down” and dive deep into academic concepts. NO. It is a time to develop the senses, refine the motor skills, learn some important life lessons, and even get children thinking in new ways. It is a time of preparation and laying a strong foundation for future learning and academics.

You may also be interested in:
A very scary headline about kindergartners
Report: Requiring kindergartners to read — as Common Core does — may harm some
Why kindergarten teachers don’t want to give this test to students
‘Sweat shop’ kindergarten: ‘It’s maddening’
You won’t believe these kindergarten schedules

See also The Washington Post's The trouble with calls for universal 'high-quality' pre-K, which is quoted in the first article in the above list. 

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