The established wisdom is that kids go to school and then they sit still and take in information. But what if that isn’t the best way to do things and in fact, established wisdom isn’t actually very wise at all?
The Institute Of Medicine Gets In On The Debate
In 2013, the Institute of Medicine weighed in with a report that showed that sitting still might be a problem. It showed that active children, “show greater attention, have faster cognitive processing speed and perform better on standardized academic tests than children who are less active.”
This was backed up a study from Lund University in Sweden which shows that kids that are active, and in particular boys that are active, do better academically.
Some Schools Have Started To Test This Idea Themselves
Research is all well and good, but it’s not a substitute for the experience of educators themselves. After all, if you have to look after a lot of children every day, it may be that you’re seeing something that a researcher is not.
The New York Times reports that some American schools have begun to explore what the benefits of more activity in a child’s daily routine might mean in the classroom.
Brian Gatens, who is the superintendent of schools in Emerson, New Jersey, says, “In schools, we sometimes are pushing against human nature in asking them [kids] to sit still and be quiet all the time.”
“But what we have found is that the active time used to energize your brain makes all those still moments better,” he explains.
His experiences are supported by the observations of James Sallis, a Professor at the University of Calfornia, who says, “Activity stimulates more blood vessels in the brain to support more brain cells. And there is evidence that active kids do better on standardized tests and pay attention more in school.”
What Could This Mean For Education As A Whole?
In addition to this research, which shows general benefits for children who are active in school, there’s a wealth of research which shows that activity in schools also reduces the levels of ADHD in school populations.
Unsurprisingly, children that burn off their extra energy are less prone to be disruptive or unable to concentrate.
Then there’s are two inescapable benefits of more active schooling. Firstly, it’s fun. Shouldn’t childhood actually be about fun? We think so.
Secondly, it’s good for you. America is one of the fattest nations on earth. Studies have shown that active children often remain active in adult life and thus are less likely to pack on the pounds.
How Could I Get My Kid’s School Involved?
A good place to start if your school wants to participate in a more active curriculum might be with the National Association of Physical Literacy which offers a free “BrainErgizers” program to schools with a more advanced paid program available if you see positive results. This allows schools to protect their budgets until they’re sure of the benefits.