How many adults could honestly say that they could sit still all day if asked to without their minds wandering or their bodies moving? What about just for a few hours listening to a seminar, lecture, speech, performance etc that does not keep our interest and quite frankly just bores us? Hardly any. I ask this question because I for one could not! I cannot do it now – let alone do it when I was a child. Neither could most children… or adults for that matter. So it astounds me that anyone still has this expectation of children.
Research strongly shows that it is virtually impossible for a child to sit for hours listening to one teachers monotone drone and actually concentrate. Common sense could tell you that. It’s un-natural and unproductive. This has huge implications for how we educate and parent our children. My experience of school in Australia in the 80’s taught me a couple of things but the main one was how to daydream! This was great for my creativity but didn’t help me too much when I needed to get through maths. With all seriousness though, I and many children like me didn’t realise how much we loved learning until after school when we could learn and explore in our own way with our own topics. What a waste of potential and time during most of those 13 school years.
School has changed a lot since I was a student and most teachers now recognise that students all learn in different ways and have differing needs and interests. It is common practice to break the days timetable into lessons which involve sitting for shorter periods, more movement, a variety of methods including visuals and lessons based on children’s interests. Hopefully all teachers these days understand this, if not they should not be teaching as they don’t get the basic fundamentals of being a teacher – which is respect for the child!
This information is also helpful to be aware of if you are a parent as there are times when your expectations do not meet the child’s developmental needs. Children are often asked to sit and listen for long periods to: religious sermons, theatre performances, adult conversations etc. During these occasions, children may appear to be playing up. Take time to think about why this is? Are they bored? Are you expecting them to keep quiet and sit still when the situation is uninteresting for them. Put yourself in their shoes and think about having to sit for hours listening to something that does not interest you at all – wouldn’t you be itching to get out too!
Teachers and parents must gear all experiences towards the child’s needs and interests if they are to facilitate and encourage a perfect environment for learning and appropriate behaviour. It is imperative that we do not ask them to sit for hours and especially to something they find boring. Do not expect behaviour in your children that you yourself could not achieve given less than ideal circumstances. If you want your children to thrive and learn then give them the right opportunities and expect their teachers to be doing the same. Respect and follow the child always and give them freedom to move!
Darling Precious Children