Can Movement Help Your Baby or Child? YES!

The NASPE (National Association for Sport and Physical Education) Guidelines for movement for children are designed to support the health and well-being of children throughout the United States. The guidelines state that “All children from birth to age 5 should engage in daily physical activity that promotes movement skillfulness and foundations of health-related fitness.” Here’s what that really means.

Infants – “Caregivers should place infants in settings that encourage and stimulate movement experiences and active play for short periods of time several times each day.” “You can encourage your infant to be active from the time he or she is born.” For example, offer your infant small challenges like placing a toy just outside their reach, so that the infant crosses the midline of the body to reach and grasp.

Toddlers – “Toddlers should engage in a total of at least 30 minutes of structured physical activity each day.” PLUS at least 60 minutes – and up to several hours – per day of unstructured physical activity and “should NOT be sedentary for more than 60 minutes at a time, except when sleeping.” Encourage moving by modeling and example. Try out simple, safe movements together from baby yoga programs.

Preschoolers – “Preschoolers should accumulate at least 60 minutes of structured physical activity each day.” PLUS at least 60 minutes – and up to several hours – of unstructured activity each day and “should NOT be sedentary for more than 60 minutes at a time, except when sleeping.” Preschoolers love to move. Doing simple, cross-lateral movements like cross crawls before any learning activity helps switch on the brain, encourage focus, and just makes kids feel happy!

When you encourage movement, along with great nutrition and lots of love, you give your baby an important opportunity to avoid ADHD-like behaviors and other challenges later on. We can’t control the ups and downs of life, but movement promotes brain cell development and enhancement, and has been shown to even help children better handle life’s difficulties.

Sadly, most of our schools and day care centers are not meeting the NASPE movement guidelines. And our children’s brains, intelligence, and well-being suffer.

I started the Children’s Brain Body Balancing program to bring simple movements right into the classroom and day care center and give parents tools to help their children focus, feel calm and learn to self-regulate. For more information, check my website – solutionswithoutdrugs.com.

Advertisements

No Excuses for Abusive Restraining of Autistic Children in Schools

Louisville, Kentucky Christopher Baker, a 9-year-old autistic boy who misbehaved at school was stuffed into a duffel bag and the drawstring pulled tight in a Mercer County Public School in Louisville, Kentucky. There are no laws in Kentucky on using restraint or seclusion in public schools. The state also investigated two informal complaints this year. “A student (was) nearly asphyxiated while being restrained,” and in the other, a student vomited from panic attacks after spending most of an academic year “confined to a closet, with no ventilation or outside source of light.”

Albuquerque, New Mexico In November, 2011, a 7-year-old autistic boy was handcuffed by a school police officer at Mary Ann Binford Elementary School in Albuquerque, New Mexico when his acting up in class escalated to running around the school and hitting social workers who were trying to restrain him. The Albuquerque Public Schools’ policies emphasize prevention, and both state and district policies say restraint should be used as a last resort – when students are in danger of hurting themselves or others. Yet de-escalation guidelines were not implemented in this situation.

Leila Pochop, a special education teacher, said she believes violent outbursts from students have increased in frequency and intensity. The poor economy, she suggests, may be putting strains on families that students with special needs carry with them to school. Shrinking public education budgets have led to smaller staffs and larger classrooms, which can trigger outbursts or make them harder to control.

Special Needs of Autistic Children Liz Thomson, past president of the New Mexico Autism Society whose son has autism, said parents would like to see training for school personnel that is specific to autism. While students with autism are not the only ones who act out, she said they have particular needs that can be counterintuitive. “What might be comforting to a neurotypical child might be painful to a child with autism.”

Real Solutions “More and more, teachers are reaching out for professional development on behavior techniques, classroom management, how do you prevent inappropriate behavior, how do you enhance positive behavior . . . this is what we need to help support our students,” Leila Pochop said. Yet school districts have reduced training and professional development budgets. Clearly, the education and respectful treatment of all children and their needs, particularly children with special needs, should be a top priority for our communities and our nation.