And How are the Children..?

Run, Jump, Eat and Learn. In that order.

Posted on: February 9, 2010


In the New York Times blog, Tara Parker-Hope describes a phenomenon in education that has a lot of educators excited: Recess first, lunch after. My first thought was “Well, of course. You don’t eat before you exercise.” I guess I’m not the only one; This article has a lot of people asking, ‘Why would you do it differently?’

But there is the issue of kids who didn’t get to have breakfast for whatever reason, and would spend recess pining for lunch. Other logistical issues are brought up as well, though that seemed the most significant. In high school sports, and later in martial arts we were taught not to eat before exercising. But the school day is no late-afternoon extracurricular activity, and we shouldn’t be smug just because that’s how we learned to do it.  There are a number of factors playing into why different strategies work in different situations.  If we take a step back, we can remember that every child is different, after all, and each child needs a little something different for optimal performance.

The bigger point is this: It is really very important that we treat children like full human beings, and consider that their academic and behavioral performance – much like ours – is naturally tied to how they feel. If they are hungry or overfull, beleaguered by “food coma,” or so bored and edgy they can’t concentrate – they won’t do well. I think adults often think of children as caricatures of themselves – an idealized image of half-formed, carefree beings with endless energy, and a desire to play that trumps all other thoughts or sensations – instead of human beings with all the same subtleties and plenty of personal discomforts.  We forge ahead with agendas of efficiency, and forget to look back now and again to make sure they’re still there with us.  We would all do well to remember that anyone at any age can benefit from some consideration of their feelings and level of comfort.

Read the article here.

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