Amidst flurries of discouraging news stories about schools eliminating or cutting down on recess, we come across occasional gems, like this letter to the editor that appeared last Friday in the Newburyport News. Laurie A. Couture, a mental health counselor for children in Massachusetts, writes:
"Epidemic numbers of American school children are presenting with profound distress signals in reaction to the developmentally inappropriate environments of public schools. These distress signals, including hyperactivity, distraction, aggression, poor school performance and school refusal, are mislabeled as ADHD, learning disabilities or mental illness in such children. The knee-jerk reaction has been to chemically control these children with powerful, dangerous psychiatric drugs.
In direct contrast, children in indigenous tribal cultures traditionally spent the majority of their day moving, engaging at all ages in intense play and physical activity. These children were not displaying symptoms of learning disabilities, brain disorders and mental illness because they were living in congruence with their nature, which is to move and play.
Although the research is clear that the very means by which children learn is through play and that physical activity is necessary for children, schools continue to treat play as a waste of time and treat children as if they are androids. Between school and homework, schools expect children to spend upwards of nine hours overriding their basic biophysiological nature in order to fulfill adult expectations that are irrelevant to a child's life. The detriments of this to children's physical, emotional, intellectual, social and creative development are lifelong and should be of grave concern to our society."
Read the full letter, Schools need a lesson in child development. Laurie is one of many concerned citizens who are taking the time to speak out against our country's growing play deficit—and people are paying attention!
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Photo by Denise Cortez (cc).