Monday, September 01, 2008

Mrs. Smucker Rants Again

Time for another rant, I think.

Today I read this and I thought, Have we lost all common sense, or maybe our minds?

Basically, researchers who no doubt spent lots of money have discovered! that kids with ADD! do better in school when they can have recess! especially if they go outside and engage in active play! How about that!

Meanwhile, it says, 40% of elementary schools have cut back or eliminated recess. "Our school board had an unofficial anti-recess policy," Lee explains. "They wanted to use school time in a 'more productive' manner.

Plus, kids' after-school time has been swallowed up with scheduled activities and electronic media, so they don't have outside play then either.

It's not just the lack of recess that bothers me here, but the idea of all these parents letting their children grow up without really getting to be children, and drugging them if they don't fit the mold, and not questioning the system.

And the opening example--10-year-old Tyler discovered he did better on his homework if he took a few laps around the house first. But that was before he began taking medications for ADD. Now he can sit still just fine. Does it not cross anyone's mind that maybe he could learn what he needs to in school and not even have any need for homework if he played or worked outside after school? (And I think 10-year-olds shouldn't have homework, another rant for another day)

I have about three children, and maybe even six, who would no doubt have had to be Ritalin-ed to fit the standard school mold. For what it's worth, here's my recipe for curing many or most cases of ADD:
Little or no background noise (radio, etc)
Very little electronic time of any kind
No school until they're at least 6 years old, maybe 7
Firm behavior boundaries
Lots of staying at home
Lots of chores
Lots of time outside with sticks, mud, balls, cats, friends, tadpoles, swings, etc.
Daily quiet time--reading alone or with parent, drawing, Legos, etc.
Daily family meal times

Maybe I could get a million-dollar grant to research this further.

Quote of the Day:
"I gotta empty the carter."
--Ben's euphemism for blowing his nose. Only warehouse people will get this, sorry.


  1. Amen! I'm on that boat with you!

  2. Very interesting!

    This principle of active playing may have applications for people of all ages...

    Wonder if I can think of anything else this day?

    Sandra Miller

  3. AMEN AND AMEN! What is going on anyway with the amount of kids that are diagnosed with ADD or ADHD these days? I don't remember kids being on drugs for behavioral problems when I was a child. It's time people wake up to what is making their children unfocused, overweight, and violent--the very things you addressed in your suggestion list! KUDOS, Dorcas!

  4. Rant On!!

    2 miscellaneous thoughts on the matter:

    many kids who are labeled as ADD or ADHD are probably gifted children and need more mental stimulation as well as more play. For kids who can quickly grasp the concept being taught, the endless worksheets are mind-numbing and make them bored and antsy. I think being medicated can keep them from excelling. My niece was on ADHD meds for a long time. Her behavior and scores at school drastically improved, her personality, however, took a nose dive. My son's teacher last year was convinced he has Asperger's. I agree that he exhibits signs of it. But a 6 yr old who reads on a 5th grade level is going to get really bored, really quick and start acting out. I'm glad I'm not the only mom who makes their kids run laps around the house. The thought of medicating my bright, funny, creative child is horrifying. He will probably always be one of the "weird" kids, but that's okay, I was one, too.

    thought 2(which I almost forgot because I sometimes exhibit signs of ADD :) ) children today are often not being taught how to behave properly in public. or at home. or to have any respect for their elders or their peers. I wonder how many kids would be labeled as having behavioral problems if they were simply taught that they are not the center of the universe.

    {jumps off soapbox}

  5. I should probably add that I know that medication has saved the sanity of many mothers. I am not totally against it when it is really needed, and I have known a few kids who really needed it. It's the kids who don't really need it, but no one wants to take the time to help them that bother me. We medicate too easily.

  6. Your rant is well justified and validated by a book called "The Case for Make Believe: Saving Play in a Commercialized World."

  7. Amen! Amen! Amen!
    My hoydens are out in the barn this afternoon making a harness for the dog and getting him to pull the wagon. That's creative play.
    This morning my preschooler and her older brother trashed out the living room by cutting paper into all shapes and sizes. that would be scissors skill. They learned how to clean by picking up all that paper.
    It's too easy to fall into the trap that says to just do the seatwork without any breaks. No kidding you'll soon need meds. For me too.
    If you stop over for tea I'll rant right along for a couple hours.

  8. I'll echo another Amen! I'll agree w/ fiorinda, there are some kids that really do need help, but for the most part I think it's adults (i.e. teachers & parents) that need to be educated on this matter. Most simply don't want to deal with the hyper-active kids, meds are their answer. It's so sad... and for the record, whenever I feel overwhelmed, sad, distressed, the best thing is going for a brisk walk.. sometimes even running, depends how worked up I am! It works! Don't take recess away, please!

  9. I read an interesting article the other day in World magazine that said a study has found a higher percentage of children whose mothers used cell phones a lot during pregnancy ended up with ADD/ADHD...but the article concluded by asking, was this because of emissions from the phones, or because the children received less attention from their mothers due to the cell phone use?

    I found your suggestions interesting. My middle daughter never got to play outside for 4 hours of pre-kindergarten care, and rarely got recesses at kindergarten because they were too busy trying to accomplish academics. She sometimes got to play outside at after-kindergarten care. The poor 5 year old sometimes went 9 hours (because I have to work) without a play break! It broke my heart and there was nothing I could do about it. How could most any child endure that much sitting, sitting, sitting?

  10. i am so with you. imho, ADD/ADHD drugs are some of the most over-prescribed. I feel that there is definitely a place for medications, and there's a lot of great research that's gone into them. but i agree with what someone else said, we medicate too easily. Just Let Kids Be Kids. a little dirt and exhaustion from active, outdoor play will not kill them. :-) very good post. i'm glad my mom didn't put me on medication. I probably needed it as much as any of the kids that get it these days.

  11. Dorcas, looks like you need to build a mighty big soap box, judging by all the "move over"s you are getting!!

    I was one of those kids in school that caught on to everything first go-round. But my teachers were smart. They had me help the kids who did not get it. They also gave me lots of free time. And we had THREE recesses per day!! One mid morning, one at lunch, and one mid afternoon AND we had PE in addition to that. Or I for sure would have been a drugged one!! But that was in the days BEFORE ADD. Also, teachers were allowed to use real discipline back in those olden days (1960s and 70s), and believe me, I knew my share of principals. In fact, I can't think of a school where the office staff and principals did not know me by name.

    I can't even sit still now! I get up from my work at least once per hour (probably every 15 minutes, if you pinned me to it) and I still LONG to go outside EVERY day and DO!!

    Thank goodness for homeschool, where recess is part of the curriculum. So is picking up manure and feeding the horses!

  12. As a teacher, I think recess is a MUST. Unfortunately, I see lots of teachers who keep kids in from recess for a variety of reasons: behavior, missing work, etc. It's these very children who need recess the most. I do keep kids in, but never for the whole recess. They need to wiggle.

    Also I would like to add another idea to your list for curing ADD: structure. It really helps all of us, but especially kids with ADD if things happen in a predictable order. Not that we have to do it perfectly, but they should have a regular waking and bedtime. Just the adequate sleep that allows is a big help.

  13. As a teacher, I know that kids need recess. Unfortunately, lots of teachers keep kids in for missing work or behavior. These are the very kids who need recess the most. They need to get those wiggles out.I do keep kids in, but never for an entire recess.

    I would like to add one thing to your list for "curing" ADD: routine. Lots of problems are solved if kids can feel comfortable about what is going to happen. Especially important are times for getting up and going to bed. Meals should be at regular times and so forth. Not that it has to be perfect, but it should be be reasonably consistent. Makes a huge difference.

  14. My name is Nathan Finch and i would like to show you my personal experience with Ritalin.

    I am 32 years old. Have been on Ritalin for 2 years now. This drug has saved my life. I have seen drastic differences between times in my life when I was taking it and when I was not. I failed out of one school and graduated top of my class in the next. Floated from job to job and then became very successful. I don't like the way I feel when I am taking it (I'm boring -- no personality) so, I time my doses to help me in the office or when I have to focus on mundane task's at home like paying bills, taxes etc. and then go without it when I'm recreating.

    I have experienced some of these side effects-
    Initially some apatite suppression, insomnia and slight gitters. This was corrected by reducing my afternoon dose.

    I hope this information will be useful to others,
    Nathan Finch