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ADVANCE Perspective: Physical Therapy & Rehab Medicine

Guest Blogger: Naomi Aaronson MA, OTR/L, CHT

Published June 10, 2008 9:54 AM by Elizabeth Puliti

Every Child Left Behind

As a school-based therapist, I see many changes since I was in elementary school. It seems the only thing that has remained are the shelter drills, and  even they disappeared for a while!

No Child Left Behind, which was enacted in 2001, is a standards-based education reform law. Success will be due to the high expectations and setting of goals that all schools must adhere to. Progress of all public schools will be measured annually for math, science and reading in grades 3 - 8 through standardized testing. In addition, schools are required to use scientifically-based research strategies in the classroom and for staff professional development.

Unfortunately, states have been forced to make cut backs in necessary areas including education due to rising costs. Thus, subjects such as physical education, music and art have been decreasing in number due to budget restraints and the emphasis upon the above subjects. What is the effect upon children?

A study by the American Heart Association and the National Association for Sport and Physical Education contends that diminishing physical education in schools has contributed to rising levels of childhood obesity. I see many children who are being pushed to read and write way before they are emotionally, physically and cognitively ready. Developmentally they have not achieved the milestones necessary to function successfully in  the school environment. These children have weak trunks, shoulders, arms and hands and lack the sitting tolerance and endurance as well as the attention necessary to achieve in the classroom day in and day out. 

They are expected  to learn with few breaks for movement, which is one of the ways children learn. In effect, we are creating a nation of overweight children who hopefully will be able to read and write--but with unknown health issues down the road. In the future, society will pay a heavy price for not thinking about a well-rounded education approach that includes hands-on activities such as music, physical education and art.  It makes me sad to think that these children are missing parts of childhood that were once so treasured.  

2 comments

Additional studies have shown that young minds need the creative stimulation of music and art for proper development and that it actually helps improve knowledge and reasoning skills.

Physical Therapy Supplies April 21, 2011 3:10 AM
au AL

"No child left behind" in fact leaves many children behind.  By forcing developmentally delayed or special needs children to "mainstream" into the classroom, it slows everyone's progress.  Either the disadvantaged children do not receive enough attention or help or they receive too much attention and those that don't "need" help are left to fend for their own or the entire class pace is slowed to accomodate those who are not ready for that level of education.  I agree that some classes could accomodate children of multiple learning levels, but some children are just not appropriate to learn in a standard classroom setting, whether it be physically, emotionally, socially, or cognitively.

Also, by switching the focus to standardized test scores, the arts and physical education are being put on the back burner.  Study after study has shown that children need physical activity for proper attention at the very least, if not to promote a healthy lifestyle.  Additional studies have shown that young minds need the creative stimulation of music and art for proper development and that it actually helps improve knowledge and reasoning skills.  And lets not forget the home economics and business related clases that teach our children essential life skills.  With "no child left behind" we might as well kiss those good bye because those topics are not on the standardized tests.  

One can only hope that with the upcoming presidential election, the voters will speak out and get rid of this ill-conceived legislation.  Let's let our teachers do what they do best...teach, and not force them to create a bunch of overweight and mindless robots that can only recite the times tables, spell, and name the state capitals.  We have computers to do that.

Christina, physical therapy - DPT, out-patient June 18, 2008 2:46 PM
Lansdale PA

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