Were you a child with Attention Deficit Disorder? Do you remember being in agony sitting in an elementary school class? At least you had recess! Unless you lost recess for not turning work in on time, there was that blessed time to run around and let that energy loose. You returned to your studies with your spirit refreshed.
No Child Left Behind, with its focus on standardized testing as the way to assess progress, led to recess restrictions in many school districts. Instructional time is a precious commodity in any classroom. Shortening recess, or doing away with it, is one way to get more teaching time for basic skills. This emphasis on the basic skills of reading and math caused incredible losses for kids with Attention Deficit Disorder.
In addition to losing recess time, kids in many districts lost access to art, music, and physical education. These are classes that kids with ADD typically excel in. Art and music allow the kids with ADD to use their amazing creativity. Drawing, ceramics, making jewelry, and other art classes allow kids with ADD to develop their focus and problem solving skills alongside their creativity. Likewise, music helps them to learn to concentrate and develop pattern recognition. Physical education lets students with Attention Deficit Disorder to learn more than sports. It allows them time for movement and exercise which help with more effective brain functioning.
A recent small study published in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the effects of exercise on 40 children. Half of them had ADD, while the other half did not. Students were allowed to have either 20 minutes of sitting down reading a book or walking on a treadmill. They were tested afterwards. Students were given both reading and math tests. They also played a simple video game. All of the students who exercised did better on the tests than the students who did not exercise. This held true for both the students with Attention Deficit Disorder and those without ADD. When students with ADD played the video game, they were able to correct mistakes by slowing down, if they were in the group that exercised. What does this mean for kids with ADD?
These researchers from Michigan State University bring evidence that giving students access to exercise can increase their academic performance. Even a small amount, like 20 minutes, can help a student be more successful. Students with ADD focus better after they have exercised. This increase in focus, facilitated by exercise, could boost the effectiveness of medication or assist students who are not helped by medication. Exercise, instead of costing instructional time, enhances time that the students spend learning in class. Kids with Attention Deficit Disorder, and their typical peers, could all benefit from vigorous movement. Bring back the recess, and find a way for students in middle and high school to have some time to exercise!
Michigan State University (2012, October 16). Exercise may lead to better school performance for kids with ADHD. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 17, 2012, from http://www.sciencedaily.com-/releases/2012/10/121016132109.htm?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+sciencedaily%2Fmind_brain%2Fadd_and_adhd+%28ScienceDaily%3A+Mind+%26+Brain+News+--+ADD+and+ADHD%29