I'm just back from spending a few days camping with some lovely Home Ed friends. I watched my son run around and play from pretty much the moment he woke up until the moment he went to sleep. He has so much energy!
He ran, he climbed, he slid, he bounced, he dug in the sand and he barely stopped all day long. It was wonderful to see, but it's really made me think. How did he use up all this energy when he was at school? For that matter, how does any child use up all their energy when they're at school?
I remember Thomas bouncing off the walls one evening after school. He couldn't sit still and getting him into bed was pretty much impossible. I ended up getting him dressed in the middle of the night and taking him for a run to try to burn off some energy. It turned out that his class had been kept in that lunchtime and so he hadn't been able to run around at all. I could really tell.
I did a bit of maths, with Thomas, based on the school day at his old school:
School day = 08:50 - 15:15 (6 hours and 25 minutes)
Morning break = 15 minutes
Lunch break (including sitting and eating lunch) = 1 hour
That's 5 hours and 10 minutes spent at desks in a classroom every day.
Over a 5-day week, that's 25 hours and 50 minutes cooped up - less two hours of PE.
So, 23 hours and 50 minutes in a classroom every week. And that's not adding in time spent sitting down whilst eating, or rainy play times spent indoors, or breakfast clubs, after school clubs, TV time at home, homework time etc.
That's a hell of a lot of sedentary time.
How do children burn off all the energy they have while they are indoors so much?
It seems to me that a lot of children find themselves diagnosed with conditions such as ADHD and I can't help wondering how many of those children are actually perfectly normal children who are just unable to burn off the natural energy they have when they are so stifled.
I'm not suggesting that all children with ADHD just need more exercise, and nor I am suggesting that ADHD doesn't really exist. Far from it. What I'm asking is 'how many children are wrongly diagnosed when the problem is not them, it's the system?'
I think it's far too easy to find fault with a child who is pretty powerless to fight back, and far too easy to label them and avoid looking at the wider picture. So many children seem to have labels slapped on them, with far too few questions asked about the environment in which they live or the level of care they receive at school.
To put this into some context, my son is a child who has had a ludicrous 'diagnosis' slapped on him. Not ADHD, but it's still a diagnosis that, as far as I can see, exists to protect the school from any repercussions for failing him. I doubt we're the only ones.
Nearly 24 hours a week in a classroom might well prepare a child for a life as a worker drone, but I can't imagine it does much to promote a healthy physical or emotional life style.