I could write a book about why recess in the fresh air is good for kids. There are now so many studies which show that fresh ait is really beneficial for children (and adults!) that it surprises me that there is no concerted effort to change the present system. As a punishment, recess is often curtailed or even suspended.
Why not Have:
- Longer and more frequent recess
- Changes in semesters
- Encourage more outdoor activities during recess
- Shorter school day to give kids more free time
The American Academy of Pediatrics is in no doubt at all about the essential role that recess can play in a child’s development: “Recess offers cognitive, social, emotional and physical benefits that may not be fully appreciated when a decision is made to diminish it”. Recess for kids in the fresh air is an even more important need as I will show you from the example below
I have just been reading an article about a US family who moved to Norway. They were really brave in that they left their ADD son’s medication behind. They felt there would be no need. The good news is that the child who had lots of problems in the US school started to thrive in Norway.
The family was delighted to find that the child started to enjoy schoolwork and was keen to do homework. There was no need to tell him! But they were also more than impressed with the school environment in Norway.
They Noticed that Things are Done Differently There
- 3 recesses instead of 1
- much less technology in the classroom
- teacher gives undivided attention to the pupils
- the school day is one hour shorter – gives the kids more free time
- the child has two hours of playtime which is four times the US average
- a half day field trip is obligatory every week
- extracurricular activities encourage students to cook and do other manual tasks
in Finland, every hour lesson has a fifteen-minute break which must be taken in the fresh air, whatever the weather! Finland has one of the lowest rates of attention deficit disorder in the western world. With a record like that, there is no need to rely totally on ADHD meds.
OECD ratings have put the Scandinavian countries at the top of the list as regards literacy and numeracy. Norway comes in at 6th in the rankings while the USA is doing very badly at only in the 21st category for numeracy while coming in at the 16thfor literacy.
What we Need to Take Away from This Story
Well, a change of scene to a Scandinavian country, nor more fresh air will certainly not cure ADHD and the above story was probably a coincidence and there may have been many other factors at play which meant that the ADHD child was able to stay off his ADHD meds. Lucky him and lucky parents too! But there are some pointers that we can take away from all this:
- We need to give our kids more time in the fresh air
- There is a need to reduce screen time
- We must look at natural remedies for ADHD rather than relying on amphetamine meds
- We should organize our homes to be more ADHD friendly for kids
Children who play outside on a regular basis are able to focus better when they have to sit down to do homework. This is in marked contrast to kids who are attached to electronic devices and who never get out at all. These kids are at risk of becoming obese, as they really need to get out and exercise in the fresh air!