Within the post, I shared an experience I had with one of my former students:
When I was teaching, I had one student who really lacked the discipline to sit still for more than five minutes at a time (anywhere); he was a very active young man and many of the teachers had a difficult time with him. I understood him, and told him he could pace back and forth at the back of the classroom, so long as he paid attention and participated in class. He found it helpful and didn't disturb my class, as he did in those where he [was] forced to remain in the chair at a desk (I don't like staying at a desk for more than 30 minutes at a time, either, and often take brief wander breaks to refocus, but I can stay in a comfortable chair with a good book for hours on end).In the end, I suggested, "It's really a matter of preference."
It turns out I might have been correct all along. Writing in the Washington Post, Angela Hanscom, a pediatric occupational therapist, suggests a principle reason so many children are now being diagnosed with ADHD is simply because schools require to spend too much time sitting at their desks:
Over the past decade, more and more children are being coded as having attention issues and possibly ADHD. A local elementary teacher tells me that at least eight of her twenty-two students have trouble paying attention on a good day. At the same time, children are expected to sit for longer periods of time. In fact, even kindergarteners are being asked to sit for thirty minutes during circle time at some schools.What is more, spending so much time sitting is actually bad for the children's physical health because "many children are walking around with an underdeveloped vestibular (balance) system today–due to restricted movement."
The problem: children are constantly in an upright position these days. It is rare to find children rolling down hills, climbing trees, and spinning in circles just for fun. Merry-go-rounds and teeter-totters are a thing of the past. Recess times have shortened due to increasing educational demands, and children rarely play outdoors due to parental fears, liability issues, and the hectic schedules of modern-day society. Lets face it: Children are not nearly moving enough, and it is really starting to become a problem.
The fix, she suggests, is really quite simple:
Fidgeting is a real problem. It is a strong indicator that children are not getting enough movement throughout the day. We need to fix the underlying issue. Recess times need to be extended and kids should be playing outside as soon as they get home from school. Twenty minutes of movement a day is not enough! They need hours of play outdoors in order to establish a healthy sensory system and to support higher-level attention and learning in the classroom.As a fidgeter, and one who has always been a fidgeter, I know she's correct; I don't fidget as much after I've gone for a long walk or a good hike in Hawaii.
Maybe it's time to re-think our current educational model.