Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Book Club Part 4--The Trouble with Boys by Peg Tyre: Chapters 7 through 9

Welcome back to the Mom2MomEd BOOK CLUB! We hope you've been following along! If not, don't pass up our FIRST, SECOND and THIRD posts. 

This week instead of both of us weighing in, it's just McKenzie's perspective. Don't worry! You will get a chance to hear from Malea next week. 
We really hope that you are following along with us. This book has been eye opening and is a definite must read for any parent!

This past week we read Chapters 7, 8 and 9 and again, WOW! Definitely some food for thought. Read on to see what I thought......

Chapter 7: Requiem for Recess

Recess has slowly diminished over time. Due to school reform and increased expectations, recess is becoming less and less of a priority.  Or is it?
Would you believe that currently only 39 percent of first graders get  20 minutes a day (or less) of recess?  The percentage continues to drop as children reach older ages. 

Peg Tyre notes, “principals are torn.  They know that kids need activity, but physical movement-jumping, screaming, skipping rope, throwing a ball, roughhousing with friends, or simply taking a quiet walk around the perimeter of the playground—is no longer considered a productive use of the school day.”  

Really? Fresh air, physical movement, refocusing, self care, social interaction, respite from sitting at a desk or not productive uses of the school day? Since when?  I understand that there are instructional requirements that teachers and administrators must follow but, come on! Our children are not robots.  As an adult, I get antsy if I’m cooped up in my house too much. I perform best when I’m given plenty of breaks and can physically remove myself from “work.” Why do we expect our little ones to be any different?

Tyre goes on to explore why we are also restricting what can and can’t be tolerated during the measly few minutes children DO get outside for recess. Rough play is strongly discouraged on many campuses and children are no longer able to play tag or touch football.  As a society have we gotten too paranoid????

YES. The answer is YES.  

I’m in the camp that kids need to move. Adults needs to move. Humans need to move. We were not built to just sit still, follow directions and be indoors.  Boys especially need this time to literally—spread their wings. While I understand that teachers and administrators have a ridiculous amount of pressure on them to perform, it’s disappointing that the one subject that is so desperately needed for boys is the first one to be cut. 

In addition, are we so afraid of what is going to happen if we let our children play freely during their time in recess? Do we really have to control every game, every interaction and make sure that it is structured?  Tyre notes, “Let’s be clear about what we are losing when we reduce recess and ban tag.  We rob children of free play that is really free.  There’s a cost—and it’s a steep one for many boys.”  

There has been research on the impact of physical activity on learning and test scores. The correlation is there. Why aren’t the decision makers seeing this?  Who needs to advocate? How are parents and teachers feeling about this?  I’d be curious to see the impact this has on teachers as well. I can’t imagine standing in front of a class teaching all day without having time to walk around outside and relax my brain.  I’m guessing that many teachers feel the same. So, are they really giving their best at school without breaks either? It seems like this is a much bigger issue with a simple solution…incorporate more movement in schools.PERIOD.

Chapter 8: Pay Attention

This chapter hit home hard for me. It’s my worst fears for my son in words. I already have figured that he’ll be “labeled” at some point in his education just because he’s not a conformist. 

The story of Kelley and Tim made me sad/mad/hurt and disappointed. They felt pressure by their sons teacher to “get him tested.” They felt strongly that nothing was “wrong” with him yet were continually bombarded with all of these behaviors that his teacher was pointing out.  At some point as a parent you begin to question yourself. What if there really is something “wrong” with my child?  Of course you would want to seek intervention as soon as possible. But, on the flip side, are teachers really qualified to make the call as to whether or not a child should be tested for ADHD? 

As parent’s we see our children in every situation. We know how they are at home, in public, at school, with friends, in private.  Some of these diagnosis have become “one size fits all” and it’s going to end up ruining our children’s self esteem, trust in teachers and parents and we’re going to end up with a bunch of overly medicated children who really just needed to play outside. 

I’m not going to make this a debate on if ADHD exists or not. I don’t really care either way. My concern is that boys are being diagnosed with it at an alarming rate and we KNOW that the system which is pointing the finger is also the very one who is not meeting the needs of our boys.  

Since there are no medical test to diagnosis ADHD, doctors rely heavily on teacher and parent observations.  Tyre adds, “What parents, psychologists, and physicians forget is that when a teacher checks off “often” next to “climbs excessively” she is saying something about your son but she is saying more about her expectations for your sons behavior in her class.” This really speaks to me. If teachers, administrators and parents took a hard look at the expectations and parameters which are set around our children, they will find (hopefully) that these are actually just very normal behaviors for kids—especially boys.

Chapter 9: Notes from the front

What an interesting chapter!

The beginning of the chapter focuses on a middle class school that was seeing a decline in boy’s interest in school and were facing a “boy problem.” While the principal was greatly aware of these issues he wasn’t able to accomplish much without the means and support.

“The reality of public education in low-performing schools, where the boy problem was worst, was that teachers and administrators worked like members of a NASCAR pit crew doing whatever they could, as fast as they could, to help get their underachieving kids over the finish line. Nevertheless, in middle class-communities, many parents, teachers, and school administrators thought it was girls, not boys, who needed all of the help.”  

I like how the chapter later talks about the discrepancy between adult standards and that which we set for boys. Specifically relating to noise and rough play.

In fact, as I’m sitting her typing I’ve asked my son no less than five times to keep the noise level down.  I actually just literally stopped myself in my own tracks and thought about what I was doing. He’s not screaming, he’s not yelling he’s excited about the pretend pet shop he’s created with his sister and is speaking out of joy. Who am I to ask him to keep it down? 

We’re not in church, we’re not in public, we’re in our own home. 

Unfortunately this only illustrates that it really takes making a conscientious effort to allow our children the freedom they need to thrive.  I think I also have a lot of work to do!

  • Here are 2 action steps for you to work on this week with your son (or daughter)... 
      • For every time you redirect your child, praise them for something they are doing well. Watch their reactions. Do they smile? Act surprised? Do that every day for a week.  Make note of the difference it makes.
      • Observe your child in the park, at school, with friends.  Watch how they play with one another. Think about how often you direct their play. Do you think that all rough play is dangerous and should be avoided? Observe how they react to other children.  
Be sure to check out all of our posts in this series:

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