Hello from Mrs. Q! Our guest blogger “Jack” emailed me with a comment and I invited him to write a longer piece with his idea. And so that is what it is: his idea. I like welcoming different perspectives to the blog. I love that this blog post has sparked many comments and little discussions.
Even within my house, Mr. Q vehemently disagrees with “Jack,” whereas I believe that when we are trying to wrap our heads around big problems, we should question everything. Certainly TV and videogames are huge in our fight for children. Maybe I need more blog posts from the anti-TV and anti-videogame contingent (of which I am a card-carrying member). But aren’t we already familar with their negative influence? (If you want to enlighten me further, email me)
Thinking about homework, with its good and bad points, is a new way of conceptualizing its effect on children as it relates to obesity. I personally think busy work should not be given as homework. I like project-based work because what do you actually remember when you grow up? The research project you did on dolphins in fifth grade. And much of that learning sticks with you (in the form of facts about a subject). Critical thinking skills should be encouraged, not just filling in the blanks. But of course I send home rote homework too. Drilling basic concepts page by page can be very important for many learners, but parents need to be involved.
Thanks for all of your comments!
**End of Update**
Childhood Obesity: A Hidden Cause
First off, a thank you to Mrs. Q for inviting me “Jack” to write this post. I am not sure how many of you readers saw the article recently posted on Yahoo
regarding school lunches, childhood obesity, and military recruiting. Most of the time when I read stories like this, I like to read through the comments as well. It gives me a better idea of what other people think about a particular issue.
One theme I saw in almost every comment was some variation of “kids need to stop watching so much television, playing Xbox and using the computer and go play outside.” This is a very valid point. With schools cutting back on (or eliminating) PE and recess, kids are getting less and less exercise. Obviously this is part of the problem, however it is not just about kids watching television and playing video games. There is another issue causing kids to spend less time exercising.
Many people forget that as kids are given increasing amounts of homework, more time spent being sedentary as well. That’s right, in my view HOMEWORK is a contributing factor in childhood obesity. To me, sitting on one’s butt is sitting on one’s butt, regardless of what is being done during that time. The thought didn’t even cross my mind until I read a column about it a few years back. My son is only 1 year old right now but when I asked my friends and relatives with school aged kids, their kids were averaging about 45 minutes-1 ½ hours a day doing homework; sometimes even up to 2-3 hours! What astounds me most is that I am hearing stories of kids in kindergarten and first grade being given homework. I can’t recall having any homework until 3rd or 4th grade. And even then, it was maybe 2 or 3 days a week. As these kids get older, there are more demands on their time (after-school activities, friends, chores, part-time jobs) but they are also being given higher amounts of homework, so they get even less exercise. Now, I am not saying that kids don’t watch too much tv or play video games too often, but that is only part of the overall problem. Kids need more time to run around and play and generally…well, be kids. Giving them more and more work to do will only hurt them in the long run.
All these factors, PE/recess being cut, school lunches, a lack of healthy eating habbits at home, a sedentary lifestyle, and probably some others I forgot, are conspiring to make our kids heavier and causing this increase in childhood obesity. We all, teachers, parents and school administrators, need to work together to try and curb this problem before it gets even more out of hand.