The April 20 front-page article “ ‘Missing skills’ among kids of covid lockdowns” illuminated an important issue: Children are missing life skills they would have learned in school under normal circumstances. But, as a lifelong educator, I was particularly struck by the inclusion of “sitting still in their chairs for hours at a time” on a list of a “basic tool kit of behaviors, life skills and strategies” children need.
Research shows that learning increases and discipline problems decrease when students are actively engaged in learning — not only intellectually, but also physically. So why on earth is “sitting still in their chairs for hours at a time” on a list of skills children need? Of course, we know the answer: Sitting still is a significant part of school as we’ve known it. But what if school were different going forward?
This moment in time, with all its challenges, offers an opportunity. When was the last time in history that a group of children got to reach their sixth birthdays without having mastered the art of “sitting still in their chairs for hours at a time”? What new kinds of skills might children develop if they are encouraged to move in school? How might a more active body spark a more active mind for post-pandemic learners? Let’s use this moment to embrace children’s natural energy and allow it to fuel learning in school. Children and their teachers will benefit if we do.
Aleta Margolis, Washington
The writer is president of Center for Inspired Teaching.