Today it is the rare educator who is brave enough to question whether first graders really need to fill out worksheets at home.
We must realize that the child who is required to learn things before he is ready may quickly tire of them. Or he may become anxiety-ridden and so frustrated that he will not try at all.
Data always can be cited selectively to support the conclusion that the homework burden really isn’t so onerous and that students could be doing more. But it may not be so easy to sell this argument to parents who have a front-row seat every evening from which to watch their kids toiling away.
Over the years, I’ve noticed that researchers may be so committed to a given agenda that they ignore (or at least minimize the importance of) what their investigations have turned up if it wasn’t the outcome they apparently had been hoping for. Their conclusions and prescriptions, in other words, are sometimes strikingly at variance with their results.
In principle, a young child, given reasonable freedom and personal guidance, develops better outside the classroom than within it. This is particularly true of the first 8 years or so.
Sensory integration is simply taking in all of the stimuli detected by the senses (smells, sights, sounds, temperature, balance, gravity) and organizing information about them for functional use. The senses work together to help you effectively process information about your body and the world around you. The more senses that are activated, the more accurate information you have about your environment.
The High School Survey of Student Engagement, probably the single best study of how high school students feel about school, reports that 66% of high school students say they’re bored in class every day. Seventeen percent say they’re bored in every class every day. Only 2% claim they’re never bored in class. Why so bored? Eighty-two percent say the material isn’t interesting; 41% say the material isn’t relevant. Another research team gave beepers to middle school students to capture their feelings in real time. During schoolwork, students were bored 36% of the time, versus 17% for all other activities. No wonder a major Gates Foundation study ranked boredom the most important reason why kids drop out of high school.
Smell is a primitive sense that alerts us to danger and is connected to our emotions. We smell danger when we come in contact with the smell of smoke, spoiled milk, and rotten meat.
People orient to noise as a survival instinct. Noise ignites our postural muscles, which position our body so our eyes and ears are aligned with the object or point of interest. These postural patterns actually foster engagement with the world around us and promote deep breathing and the ability to effectively regulate (control) our senses.
When children have difficulty with the sense of touch, they may overreact to tactile experiences. We call this tactile defensiveness.
Play is regarded by many as trivial, as a waste of time or as a way of using up excess energy. But, as I have said, we have all done it, and it has often had a profound effect upon us. Yet as adults we often only value it as a sanitised and adulterated experience for our own children. It certainly is an enigma.
When children move their bodies against gravity they develop the necessary strength and balance patterns needed to maintain postural control. Swinging, climbing up a pole or tree, riding the merry-go-round, winter sledding on the belly with arms and legs up, jumping rope, and rolling down a hill and back up again are all play experiences that help children develop postural control.