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