"Bear in mind that the wonderful things you learn in your schools are the work of many generations, produced by enthusiastic effort and infinite labor in every country of the world. All this is put into your hands as your inheritance in order that you may receive it, honor it, add to it, and one day faithfully hand it to your children. Thus do we mortals achieve immortality in the permanent things which we create in common." - Albert Einstein

Monday, May 15, 2017

Fidget Spinners or Exercise?

Toys that allow a child to move their fingers are believed to be soothing. Since fidget spinners are quite popular, having one does not make a child stand out. Not being the odd person, of course, makes it quite an attractive intervention. The problem is that these toys are quite distracting so some schools have in fact banned their use inside classrooms. More importantly, there are no studies out there that have specifically looked at these toys. Instead, there are quite a number of studies that demonstrate that exercise, which includes gross motor activity, helps children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

A meta-analysis of studies on effects of physical activity on ADHD published last year, for instance, shows a significant effect (g = 0.627) on both executive function and motor skills. A similar review done recently also shows that physical cardio exercise (an exercise that "raises the heart rate, stimulates perspiration, and makes one out of breath") benefits children with ADHD. In fact, in one study, an effect size of 0.90 has been observed. There is much less evidence supporting non-cardio exercise (meditation, yoga, tai-chi, as examples).

My son loves to play soccer. He always looks forward to recess as an opportunity to play with his friends.

Exercise, of course, is not only good for children with ADHD, but for all children. For this reason, we need to keep reminding ourselves that recess during which children can play is a very important part of basic education. We should not take away recess simply to give more room for reading and math. Taking away recess as a form of disciplinary action is likewise wrong. This is no different from taking away food from our children as a punishment. Children need physical activity.

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