A Cracked Foundation
Attachment and Addictions
How virtual parenting is destroying children. A Cracked Foundation profiles how attachment formation is an underlying causal factor for the recent rise in child mental illness and addiction.
Connection to technology is disconnecting child development. Mixed Signals covers research related to the impact of technology in child physical, mental, social, and academic domains.
Why Can’t Children Sit Still?
Attention and Learning
The importance of movement and nature for attention and learning. Why Can’t Children Sit Still? promotes increased access to age appropriate play structures, nature trails, and recreational spaces.
Increasing profits in the classroom.Diminishing Returns addresses student diversity, and offers solutions for classroom, gym and playgrounds to improve productivity.
Critical factors for early child development. Healthy Interactions raises awareness regarding the early need for adequate movement, touch, human connection, and nature.
Recognizing and respecting past ancestry. Generational Healing profiles attachment formation in First Nations communities, and offers strategies to repair primary relationships.
For Programs Zone’in, Move’in, Unplug’in, and Live’in. Teacher Training Programprovides participants will essential tools and techniques to implement Zone’in, Move’in, Unplug’in and Live’in Products.
Balanced Technology Management
Powerful strategies to increase workplace productivity.Balanced Technology Management raises awareness regarding the impact of technology on human productivity, and offers tools and techniques to optimize worker performance.
Disconnect to Reconnect
Connection to technology is disconnecting child development and learning.Disconnect to Reconnect enables parents to manage healthy balance between activities children need for growth and success, with technology use.
It gets worse. Early exposure by children to violent media content has resulted in an epidemic in child aggression, creating havoc in schools and homes (10). As the health and education sectors begin to uncover the devastating consequences of technology overuse, the struggle begins for a cure to this new societal ill. What has been known for decades is that children need to move to learn (1), and when movement is restricted by allowing technology to replace recess and lunch in outdoor playgrounds, children can’t learn. It is really that simple. Schools need to manage a balance between achieving critical elements for child growth and success, with use of technology. Access to playgrounds during recess and lunch, offers children a variety of types of movement, as well as ample opportunity to socialize and participate in creative and imaginary play. Yet, many schools allow children to stay inside and “work” on computers during recess and lunch, often unsupervised, detrimentally affecting their health, development and academic performance. Unstructured play in a nature based environment provides attention restoration necessary for optimal brain productivity. Sitting for extended periods gazing at a 2-dimentional screen fine tuning the art of killing, actually “short circuits” the frontal cortex, eliminating executive function altogether, as well as destroys impulse control making it virtually impossible to attend or learn (11). Schools allowing playground equipment to become antiquated and in disrepair is not only unconscionable, but also short sighted and just plain stupid.
What do children need for optimal development and productivity, and how can playground equipment meet those needs? Cris Rowan, pediatric occupational therapist and sensory specialist reports that children need adequate sensory input to their vestibular, proprioceptive and tactile systems in order to achieve optimal core posture, bilateral coordination of the body and eyes, and praxis – or ability to perform planned movement patterns. Posture, coordination and praxis form the foundation for all fine and gross motor activities, such as printing, reading and sports. Engagement in 3-4 hours per day of unstructured rough and tumble play ensures children get what they need to grow and succeed (12). Rowan states that playground structures are an integral component for attaining literacy, as they ensure children meet critical developmental milestones necessary for eventual printing and reading. Playground structures should contain elements that contribute to the development of the vestibular, proprioceptive and tactile sensory systems. The following suggestions for sensory playground structures will optimize sensory and motor development and enhance academic productivity, and can be gym, classroom or playground based. This information has been condensed by Rowan from her Zone’in Foundation Series Workshops that she offers to education and health professionals and parents, and is really all about learning how to play outside.
Vestibular System – Posture and Arousal
Equipment that causes a child to move off their centre of gravity serves to activate the core stabilizer muscles, bringing the child back into their center and facilitating midline postural tone. This strong core is required for integration of both sides of the body, and coordination of both eyes. Vestibular stimulation also optimizes a child’s arousal state, enabling attention. Examples of vestibular equipment would be a variety of types of swings (frog, traditional, hammock, platform, tire, inner tube, rope, disc), trapeze bars, zip lines, slides, merry-go-rounds, trampolines, spring rockers, gliders, therapy balls, spin boards (can make with two pieces of plywood and Lazy Susan), plastic spin discs, and scooter boards.
Proprioceptive System – Strength and Coordination
Equipment that makes a child’s muscle and joint systems work hard promotes strength and coordination of the muscles, and also serves to calm down a child who is agitated and aggressive. Examples of proprioceptive equipment would be a variety of types of climbing devices (ropes, cargo net, frames, climbing mounts on walls), jungle gyms, parallel bars, pulling on deflated bicycle inner tubes (get from local bike shop), Tug-Of-War rope (children who fight should be required to do a Tug-Off), crawling through plastic tubes. chin-up bars, and exercise bikes.
Tactile System – Praxis and Calming
Equipment that administers deep pressure to the mechanoreceptors found in a child’s tactile or touch system, serves to help that child know where their body is in space, a precursor for planning specific movement patterns essential for fine and gross motor tasks known as “praxis”. Examples of tactile equipment would be lycra pod swings, crawling inside large inflated truck tire inner tubes, rolling children tight in blankets (called “burrito”), rolling down grassy slopes, crawling through lycra tubes, getting squished in between two bean bag chairs or gym mats, and running and jumping onto a large duvet cover filled with foam chips (get from local foam shop).
Children are our future, and there is no future in the unconscious use of technology. Bringing the “technology train” back to the station, will allow schools necessary time to plan responsible and informed use of technology. Curtailing or freezing technology expenditures, and diverting this money toward upgrading gyms, classrooms and playground equipment, will result in immediate improvements in children’s ability to attend and learn. Technology awareness programs that teach children how to manage balanced technology use, would result in reductions in child aggression and obesity, as well as long term improvements in literacy and academic performance.”
Computers vs. Playgrounds – It’s a No Brainer!
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2. American Academy of Pediatrics, Committee on Public Education (2001) Children, Adolescents, and Television. Pediatrics Vol 107(2), 423-426.
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