According to the Center for Disease Control (C.D.C.) the rate of childhood obesity has more than tripled in the last 30 years. The cause may or may not be obvious but children with sedentary lifestyles are certainly more likely to be overweight or obese than equivalent children with an active lifestyle. Why, in the past 30 years, have children become sedentary? Of course we can blame T.V., video games, and the internet. Some even blame schools. With an ever increasing pressure to improve academic scores, many schools around the nation have eliminated recess in elementary schools thereby increasing the amount of time each day that a student sits.
It’s tough to argue that increasing the amount of education is actually hindering your child’s ability to learn, but it is the case. Let’s look at the facts. First the average attention span is about an hour. After that hour, people’s ability to effectively on a topic or task exponentially decreases. The cure is to get up and walk around for 10 minutes to give your brain a rest. Students aren’t necessarily getting this chance.
In the past month researchers at the University of Illinois have published the results of their experiments that through the use of a treadmill and magnetic resonant imaging (M.R.I.) have shown that among 8 – 10 year old children physical activity enlarges several areas of the brain involved with critical and intricate thinking.
While there is a time to sit quietly and learn, there is also a time to run and play. We are finding more and more evidence supporting the belief that these two go hand in hand. With the end of the school year upon us, children will definitely get more time to run and play, but how will you get them to learn this summer? You can check out your local library to find a good book or even participate in a craft or event they may be hosting. A hot new trend popping up at indoor bounce playgrounds is hold special events that combine a book club with running and jumping.
New Jersey authors Karen and Jonathan Fluck have been working hard to get involved in these types of events. “What a great way to beat the summer heat, play, and learn.” says Jonathan Fluck. He and Karen have been working with indoor bounce playgrounds to incorporate their narrative non-fiction series T-Bot and Peabody Explore into their special events. Karen Fluck explains “At our events, we read a story from our series to the children and then incorporate games or crafts into our time. It allows the kids to expand their minds and stretch their muscles. They are learning and having fun.”
This summer let your children run and play. It is making them lean, fit, healthy, happy, and smarter.