Science Garden

watermelon3Science class can be delicious! We started the new school year in the science garden visiting the watermelon plants. The students learned how watermelon grows, noticing the vines, tendrils, and germinated flowers. After picking watermelons they tasted the delicious treat in the classroom as they learned about the health benefits of the fruit. Yummm!


The Hidden Benefits of Reading Aloud — Even for Older Kids

Educator Jim Trelease explains why reading aloud to your child, no matter what her age, is the magic bullet for creating a lifelong reader.

Jim Trelease is the author of the respected, Read-Aloud Handbook, which some parents have called the “read aloud Bible.” The book is packed with information — from what really makes kids love reading, to tips for luring kids away from electronics and onto the page, to hundreds of read aloud titles. The Handbook’s seventh edition will be published in the spring of 2013 and, at 71 years old, Trelease says it will be his last.

Can you explain the link between reading aloud and school success?

It’s long established in science and research: the child who comes to school with a large vocabulary does better than the child who comes to school with little familiarity with words and a low vocabulary.

Why is that? If you think about it, in the early years of school, almost all instruction is oral. In kindergarten through second and third grades, kids aren’t reading yet, or are just starting, so it’s all about the teacher talking to the kids. This isn’t just true in reading but in all subjects; the teacher isn’t telling kids to open their textbooks and read chapter three. The teaching is oral and the kids with the largest vocabularies have an advantage because they understand most of what the teacher is saying. The kids with small vocabularies don’t get what is going on from the start, and they’re likely to fall further and further behind as time goes on.

How does a child develop a large vocabulary even before school starts?

Children who are spoken to and read to most often are the ones with the largest vocabularies. If you think about it, you can’t get a word out of the child’s mouth unless he has heard it before. For example, the word “complicated.” A child isn’t going to say the word unless he has heard it before — and in fact to remember it, a child probably has to hear it multiple times. (That’s not true with swear words, of course. If a child hears his parent swear he’ll remember it the first time, and happily repeat it whenever he gets the chance.) But kids have to hear most words multiple times, so it’s important that their parents talk to and around them from the time they are very young, because that’s how they learn words.

Reading aloud: an advertisement for books

So parents need to talk to their children — but reading aloud is important, too. Because where are children going to be hearing the most words? In conversation, we tend to use verbal shorthand, not full sentences. But the language in books is very rich, and in books there are complete sentences. In books, newspapers, and magazines, the language is more complicated, more sophisticated. A child who hears more sophisticated words has a giant advantage over a child who hasn’t heard those words.

Reading aloud also increases a child’s attention span. Finally, reading aloud to your child is a commercial for reading. When you read aloud, you’re whetting a child’s appetite for reading. The truth is, what isn’t advertised in our culture gets no attention. And awareness has to come before desire. A child who has been read to will want to learn to read herself. She will want to do what she sees her parents doing. But if a child never sees anyone pick up a book, she isn’t going to have that desire.

Why do you think it’s important to read to older kids, too?

People often say to me, ‘”My child is in fourth grade and he already knows how to read, why should I read to him?” And I reply, “Your child may be reading on a fourth grade level, but what level is he listening at?”

A child’s reading level doesn’t catch up to his listening level until eighth grade. You can and should be reading seventh grade books to fifth grade kids. They’ll get excited about the plot and this will be a motivation to keep reading. A fifth grader can enjoy a more complicated plot than she can read herself, and reading aloud is really going to hook her, because when you get to chapter books, you’re getting into the real meat of print — there is really complicated, serious stuff going on that kids are ready to hear and understand, even if they can’t read at that level yet.

Reading aloud to your kids is also are good way to grapple with difficult issues. For example, you can tell your child, “I don’t want you to hang out with so and so,” but that’s a lecture that will probably go in one ear and out the other. But if you read a book about a kid who gets in trouble by hanging out with the wrong crowd, your child is going to experience that directly, and she’s going to experience it with you at her side, and you can talk about it together. You can ask questions like: “Do you think the boy made the right choice?” “Do you think that girl was really her friend?” When you talk about a book together, it’s not a lecture, it’s more like a coach looking at a film with his players, going over the plays to find out what went right and what went wrong.

Books to blow your mind

Someone once said that books allow you to examine explosive situations without having them blowing up in your face. Books allow you to develop awareness of people outside your experience and develop a sense of empathy. When I was growing up, I wasn’t rich, but by reading books I learned that there are kids out there who are a lot worse off than me, kids growing up with real disadvantages. The wider your world, the more you understand and the more you can empathize.

Another advantage of reading aloud: if you weren’t a reader yourself growing up, reading to your kids gives you the chance to meet the child you used to be and read the books you never read. I hear from people all the time, especially fathers, who say, “Wow! I never read The Secret Garden as a child, and I had no idea what I was missing!”

I’ve had that experience myself, and I was an avid reader as a child, but I mostly read boys’ books, like The Call of the Wild. I didn’t read the classics like The Secret Garden and Little Lord Fauntleroy, so it was great to have the chance to read them with my kids.

Meadowbrook Students Ranked Nationally in Le Grand Concours

frenchcontestZara Clark-Schecter of North Wales has ranked in the 95th percentile nationally in the 82nd annual event earning a gold medal. Isabel Lucas of Philadelphia and Nelson Cordón of Abington have ranked in the 90th percentile nationally earning silver medals. Gabriella Cordón of Abington has ranked in the 85th percentile nationally in the 82nd annual event earning a silver medal. Elizabeth Grohsman of Meadowbrook, Delaney Stout of Hatboro, and Nicole Villa of Abington have ranked in the 80th percentile nationally in the 82nd annual event earning bronze medals according to Lisa Narug, National Director of Le Grand Concours.  Le Grand Concours is a national competition sponsored by the American Association of Teachers of French.  Students were evaluated for their written, oral and listening comprehension skills in French.   More than 85,000 students in all 50 states competed in the 2017 event. Zara Clark-Schecter, fourth grade, Nelson Cordon, fourth grade, Isabel Lucas, first grade, Gabriella Cordon, second grade, Elizabeth Grohsman, second grade, Delaney Stout, second grade, and Nicole Villa, second grade, are students of Suzanne Cordón.

AATF President Catherine Danièlou indicated:  French students who rank nationally in Le Grand Concours demonstrate a superior level of global responsibility, integrative cultural competence, language skills, and commitment to excellence and dedication. They significantly increase their community’s international profile. Their French teachers, whom they honor, work hard to produce responsible world citizens with multilingual capabilities. Le Grand Concours participants and winners all embrace an appreciation for other cultures, strive to continually learn and improve, and value the study of French. We are very proud of them and admire their commitment to both contributing to a better world and serving as exceptional ambassadors for their schools.

For more information about the National French Contest, please visit our website:

5th Grade Dissection

dissection3Fifth grade students enjoyed dissecting flowers today as part of their Flower Unit in Science. While studying pollination and fertilization of flowers, they were able to locate all of the essential flower parts using the microscopes. Plus, while observing pollen on the anther of the stamen, they now understand why so many people have allergies to pollen this time of year!

Why are our children so bored in school, cannot wait, get easily frustrated, and have no real friends

by Victoria Prooday, Occupational Therapist

I am an occupational therapist with 10 years of experience working with children, parents, and teachers. I completely agree with this teacher’s message that our children are getting worse and worse in many aspects. I hear the same consistent message from every teacher I meet. Clearly, throughout my ten years as an Occupational Therapist, I have seen and continue to see a decline in kids’ social, emotional, and academic functioning, as well as a sharp increase in learning disabilities and other diagnoses.

Today’s children come to school emotionally unavailable for learning, and there are many factors in our modern lifestyle that contribute to this. As we know, the brain is malleable. Through environment, we can make the brain “stronger” or make it “weaker”. I truly believe that, despite all our greatest intentions, we unfortunately remold our children’s brains in the wrong direction. Here is why:

1. Technology

Using technology as a “Free babysitting service” is, in fact, not free at all. The payment is waiting for you just around the corner. We pay with our kids’ nervous systems, with their attention, and with their ability for delayed gratification. Compared to virtual reality, everyday life is boring. When kids come to the classroom, they are exposed to human voices and adequate visual stimulation as opposed to being bombarded with the graphic explosions and special effects that they are used to seeing on the screens. After hours of virtual reality, processing information in a classroom becomes increasingly challenging for our kids because their brains are getting used to the high levels of stimulation that video games provide. The inability to process lower levels of stimulation leaves kids vulnerable to academic challenges. Technology also disconnects us emotionally from our children and our families. Parental emotional availability is the main nutrient for child’s brain. Unfortunately, we are gradually depriving our children of that nutrient.

2. Kids get everything they want the moment they want

“I am Hungry!!” “In a sec I will stop at the drive thru” “I am Thirsty!” “Here is a vending machine.” “I am bored!” “Use my phone!” The ability to delay gratification is one of the key factors for future success. We have the best intentions — to make our children happy — but unfortunately, we make them happy at the moment but miserable in the long term. To be able to delay gratification means to be able to function under stress. Our children are gradually becoming less equipped to deal with even minor stressors, which eventually become huge obstacles to their success in life.

The inability to delay gratification is often seen in classrooms, malls, restaurants, and toy stores the moment the child hears “No” because parents have taught their child’s brain to get what it wants right away.

3. Kids rule the world

“My son doesn’t like vegetables.” “She doesn’t like going to bed early.” “He doesn’t like to eat breakfast.” “She doesn’t like toys, but she is very good at her iPad” “He doesn’t want to get dressed on his own.” “She is too lazy to eat on her own.” This is what I hear from parents all the time. Since when do children dictate to us how to parent them? If we leave it all up to them, all they are going to do is eat macaroni and cheese and bagels with cream cheese, watch TV, play on their tablets, and never go to bed. What good are we doing them by giving them what they WANT when we know that it is not GOOD for them? Without proper nutrition and a good night’s sleep, our kids come to school irritable, anxious, and inattentive. In addition, we send them the wrong message. They learn they can do what they want and not do what they don’t want. The concept of “need to do” is absent. Unfortunately, in order to achieve our goals in our lives, we have to do what’s necessary, which may not always be what we want to do. For example, if a child wants to be an A student, he needs to study hard. If he wants to be a successful soccer player, he needs to practice every day. Our children know very well what they want, but have a very hard time doing what is necessary to achieve that goal. This results in unattainable goals and leaves the kids disappointed.

4. Endless Fun

We have created an artificial fun world for our children. There are no dull moments. The moment it becomes quiet, we run to entertain them again, because otherwise, we feel that we are not doing our parenting duty. We live in two separate worlds. They have their “fun“ world, and we have our “work” world. Why aren’t children helping us in the kitchen or with laundry? Why don’t they tidy up their toys? This is basic monotonous work that trains the brain to be workable and function under “boredom,” which is the same “muscle” that is required to be eventually teachable at school. When they come to school and it is time for handwriting their answer is “I can’t. It is too hard. Too boring.” Why? Because the workable “muscle” is not getting trained through endless fun. It gets trained through work.

5. Limited social interaction

We are all busy, so we give our kids digital gadgets and make them “busy” too. Kids used to play outside, where, in unstructured natural environments, they learned and practiced their social skills. Unfortunately, technology replaced the outdoor time. Also, technology made the parents less available to socially interact with their kids. Obviously, our kids fall behind… the babysitting gadget is not equipped to help kids develop social skills. Most successful people have great social skills. This is the priority!

The brain is just like a muscle that is trainable and re-trainable. If you want your child to be able to bike, you teach him biking skills. If you want your child to be able to wait, you need to teach him patience. If you want your child to be able to socialize, you need to teach him social skills. The same applies to all the other skills. There is no difference!

You can make a difference in your child’s life by training your child’s brain so that your child will successfully function on social, emotional, and academic levels. Here is how:

1. Limit technology, and re-connect with your kids emotionally
•Surprise them with flowers, share a smile, tickle them, put a love note in their backpack or under their pillow, surprise them by taking them out for lunch on a school day, dance together, crawl together, have pillow fights
•Have family dinners, board game nights (see the list of my favorite board games), go biking, go to outdoor walks with a flashlight in the evening

2. Train delayed gratification
•Make them wait!!! It is ok to have “I am bored“ time – this is the first step to creativity
•Gradually increase the waiting time between “I want” and “I get”
•Avoid technology use in cars and restaurants, and instead teach them waiting while talking and playing games
•Limit constant snacking

3. Don’t be afraid to set the limits. Kids need limits to grow happy and healthy!!
•Make a schedule for meal times, sleep times, technology time
•Think of what is GOOD for them- not what they WANT/DON’T WANT. They are going to thank you for that later on in life. Parenting is a hard job. You need to be creative to make them do what is good for them because, most of the time, that is the exact opposite of what they want.
•Kids need breakfast and nutritious food. They need to spend time outdoor and go to bed at a consistent time in order to come to school available for learning the next day!
•Convert things that they don’t like doing/trying into fun, emotionally stimulating games

4. Teach your child to do monotonous work from early years as it is the foundation for future “workability”
• Folding laundry, tidying up toys, hanging clothes, unpacking groceries, setting the table, making lunch, unpacking their lunch box, making their bed
•Be creative. Initially make it stimulating and fun so that their brain associates it with something positive.

5. Teach social skills
•Teach them turn taking, sharing, losing/winning, compromising, complimenting others , using “please and thank you”

From my experience as an occupational therapist, children change the moment parents change their perspective on parenting. Help your kids succeed in life by training and strengthening their brain sooner rather than later!

The Impact of Meadowbroook

kathrynEven though it has been almost 10 years since I attended Meadowbrook, the impact this school had on me has not faded in the least. Over the past few years, I have come to realize just how important Meadowbrook has been to me. Two years ago, I applied to a job at a non-profit in Philadelphia that awards scholarships to elementary-aged kids for them to attend independent or parochial schools. In this process, I was asked about why I am interested in working in education. “Meadowbrook” was my immediate response.

The unique environment of Meadowbrook is where I learned the meaning of community, leadership, honesty, responsibility, self-confidence, and respect. The 2nd grade post-office taught me to take ownership and that communities relied on the combination of individual duties, the annual art show made me feel proud of myself (even if my project did not in any way resemble the Modigliani piece it was supposed to), and teachers kindly but firmly correcting me behaviorally and academically kept me honest. Special shout out to Mr. Gaines for moving my desk to the very back corner of the room by itself while I was at recess, after a particularly chatty morning. Reading buddies and waiters created a sense of family and gave me role models among my peers, and eventually taught me how to be a leader and role model, too. Mr. S’s annual reading of the book about Ruby Bridges bravely integrating a New Orleans school, as well as his story of the runner who helped his opponent across the finish line instilled in me the values of respect for others, especially those who are different from myself. I really could go on and on about the ways the time-honored traditions of Meadowbrook shaped my values and who I am today. These traditions and daily occurrences are meaningful retrospectively, but to my elementary-aged self, they were just a part of the normal life of a Meadowbrook student. Little by little, small wisdoms were imparted on me, but at the time I was only aware of how much I enjoyed being at school.

My best friend at Meadowbrook, Sara Trost ’08, is my best friend tosaltzman family this day. The way in which Meadowbrook nurtured our friendship is amazing, but I think it speaks even more to the culture of Meadowbrook that both Sara and I are passionate about pursuing careers related to education. Meadowbrook is a special place that fosters each student’s individuality while teaching them how to be good community members, and more than that, good people. I ended up getting that job at the non-profit in Philadelphia. Through my experience there, it became even more clear to me how important elementary-education is, and how lucky I am to have spent my childhood at Meadowbrook. It is rare to find a school that cares as much about its students and families as much as Meadowbrook does, and even more rare to find a school that genuinely cares about its alumni in the same way. I’m thankful that I’ll always be welcomed home at Meadowbrook.

Children helping in the community

Everyone needs to feel needed, and everyone wants to have a place to belong. Because screen time and after-school activities tend to eat up so much of our time in this day and age, the younger generation is less likely to know the satisfaction of a job well done, the thrill of being an active member in a close-knit community, and the joy helping others can bring.

Getting your children involved in their community is a great way to help them feel a sense of importance and belonging, and give them some time away from the screen to experience life and the world around them.
There are many ways to get your kids out of the house and contributing to the community. When deciding what kind of community service projects you would like to see your family participate in, consider the talents and interests of your children. If the work is appealing and engaging to them, they will be much more likely to go in with a good attitude and come out feeling accomplished.

Below are a few ways you and your children can help out in your community.

Volunteer at a Soup Kitchen

Children who enjoy cooking and serving food might be interested in volunteering at a local soup kitchen. To make the experience more fun, consider allowing each of your children to bring a friend along and remind them to chat it up with the folks who come through the food line. They may even leave with a few new friends.

Volunteer at a Fundraising Event

Every community has a variety of fundraising events each year. The organizers of these events are always in need of volunteers to help keep things running smoothly. By selling snacks or drinks, helping with set-up or break-down, or offering to perform (if music or dance is your thing) you will get to spend the day at a fun event while helping the community around you.

Plant Trees or Flowers

Many community spaces such as parks are in need of more greenery. Grab a shovel and your kids and start planting trees and flowers to make your community a beautiful place to be. Just be sure to get permission before you begin this project!

Pick Up Litter

One quick and easy way to help keep your spot on Earth clean is to pick up litter whenever you see it. By teaching your little ones to do this, you ensure that a new generation of community members will be committed to keeping their world pretty. To make an even bigger impact, set aside an entire day in which you and your family head to a local park to clean up. This can be a great bonding experience, and the reward is a nice, clean park to enjoy.

Visit a Nursing Home

Many people living in nursing homes rarely have visitors. Help cheer up these lonely folks by visiting on a regular basis. Have your children make and bring cards to share, sing carols around the holidays, bring a book to read together, or just sit and chat. Whatever your family decides to do while you are there, your new friends are sure to appreciate the company.

This is just a small selection of ways you could encourage your kids to contribute to their community. Sit down with your kids, consider all the options, pick one, and head out to make the world a better place.

Teacher Spotlight: Ms. Wooler


Wooler-Lindsey-HR (1)Lindsey Wooler:  Music Teacher

1. What is one item on your bucket list?

I want to visit Jerusalem and see the rich historical sites.

2. What book are you currently reading?

Mattimeo by Brian Jacques. It’s a great story about mice, badgers, crazy rabbits, and much more!

3. Who is your mentor? Why?

My voice teacher from college, Dr. Shockey. He is a wonderful musician, teacher, and friend. I have learned so much from him about pursuing musical excellence, teaching well and clearly, and doing everything with consistency and intention.

4. What would your superpower be?

I would love to have super awesome reflexes and strength like Captain America.

5. Where is the best place you have traveled to and why?

That is hard to say because I have traveled a lot. If I have to pick, Venice was my favorite place. I loved the architecture, the food, and the culture! The city is beautiful and exceeded my expectations.

6. If you could do any job for just one day what would it be?

I would like to be a marine archaeologist. I am fascinated by the oceans and would love to study some of our history underwater!

7. Tell us something that might surprise us about you.

I have had the opportunity to visit five out of the seven continents. I’m still working on Australia and Antarctica!

8. What is your favorite thing about Meadowbrook?

My favorite thing about Meadowbrook is definitely the community. I do not feel like one isolated teacher, but rather that I am part of the bigger fabric of the Meadowbrook school. The teachers, administrators and other staff members have been very kind and helpful to me in my first year at Meadowbrook and the students are wonderful! I wake up each day excited and I truly feel blessed to teach here!

Why So Many Kids Can’t Sit Still in School Today!

outdoorplayIf you look on the U.S. government’s “Let’s Move” website, which promotes the importance of physical activity for young people, you will find that it says this:

Physical activity is an essential component of a healthy lifestyle. In combination with healthy eating, it can help prevent a range of chronic diseases, including heart disease, cancer, and stroke, which are the three leading causes of death. Physical activity helps control weight, builds lean muscle, reduces fat, promotes strong bone, muscle and joint development, and decreases the risk of obesity. Children need 60 minutes of play with moderate to vigorous activity every day to grow up to a healthy weight.

Sixty minutes sounds like a lot, right? It is — but Angela Hanscom, a pediatric occupational therapist, doesn’t think it’s near enough to combat all of the issues that young people face today in the academic-oriented, competitive school culture. In this post, she explains why, and what should be done about it. Hanscom is the author of a number of popular posts on this blog, including “Why so many kids can’t sit still in school today” and “How schools ruined recess.” Hanscom is the founder of TimberNook, a nature-based development program designed to foster creativity and independent play outdoors in New England. She writes on the TimberNook blog, and her new book, “Balanced and Barefoot: How Unrestricted Outdoor Play Makes for Strong, Confident, and Capable Children,” has just been released.

Why so many kids can’t sit in school today.


By Angela Hanscom

Movement equals health is one of those equations as indisputable as the sun equals light. But there are two important variables that rarely factor into this formula: the type of movement and how much. For children, it’s a lot more than you think.

The U.S. government’s recommendation of 60 minutes of vigorous movement a day for children, combined with healthy eating, is great for decreasing the risks of obesity and heart disease, among other chronic diseases. But children today have symptoms of other alarming problems, such as weaker bones and muscles, emotional instability and anxiety, surprising episodes of aggression, the inability to focus and pay attention, and problems “sitting still” compared to children of just two decades ago.

Know what helps with all of these? Movement. And a lot of it! To be healthy, children need several hours (not minutes!) of movement a day — preferably outdoors, where the senses are fully alive and their bodies are free to move in many different ways.

[The right — and surprisingly wrong — ways to get kids to sit still in class]

The White House, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are making efforts to combat the obesity epidemic. This is important and I applaud their efforts. But if we don’t step in to address other problems on the rise, we risk setting our kids up for another epidemic: rampant developmental, behavioral and emotional disorders, and even the misdiagnosis of attention-deficit disorder and autism.

I recently got a call from a longtime friend. “My son is in full-day kindergarten now. He is the sweetest little boy in the world,” she gushed. “He desperately wants to please his teacher, but he keeps failing miserably.”

She started crying. She told me that her son comes home almost every day with a note that says he was “wiggly” during math or couldn’t sit still for circle time again. “They don’t know what to do with him,” she said. “They have him carrying heavy books to the office thinking that this hefty load will somehow help to ‘calm him.’ And they encourage him to ‘get his sillies out’ by jumping on a trampoline for a few minutes, but it doesn’t seem to help much.”

She went on to say, “He is starting to think something is wrong with him. He says things like, ‘I can’t do anything right’ or the most heart-breaking of all, ‘I’m stupid.’ He is just starting his academic years and already has a taste for defeat.”

This 5-year-old is being targeted as a “problem child” simply because he needs to move more. According to veteran teachers who have been in the classroom for more than 30 years, maybe one or two children would have trouble paying attention in the past. Now, it is the new norm. Teachers are frequently telling me that on a good day, roughly 4 out of 13 children have trouble attending.

The number of developmental deficits seen in children today is unnerving. More and more kids are quick to become emotional, are fidgeting in the classroom, can’t do a sit-up or a pushup, have inadequate social skills, are clumsy and can’t function in collaborative group activities with peers. They don’t seem to be able to think for themselves or solve problems on their own. Compared to past generations, many children can’t keep up physically, socially, cognitively and emotionally.

But labeling these kids “troublemakers” or as suffering from “attention-deficit disorder” isn’t the answer — diagnosis (clinical or anecdotal) doesn’t mean the problem is solved. Let’s look at the root cause. These could be symptoms of clinical disorders, but based on the sheer quantity of sensory and motor deficits seen in many children today — they are more than likely a result of the child’s environment. Being indoors much of the day, being on screens an average of 7.5 hours a day and having adults curate all of their extracurricular time is harming our children and making them sick.

We can’t expect children to sit for hours on end, interspersed with little movement breaks and not expect consequences to their development. Children need at least three hours of outdoor play on a daily basis in order to foster healthy sensory and motor development. Children need opportunities to go upside down, climb trees, run as fast as they can, use their imagination, test their strength, care for each other’s scraped knees, roll, climb, balance and even spin in circles. All of these activities use their brain, activate their muscles both big and small, and engage the senses. This lays the foundation for being able to pay attention, listen and learn in a classroom setting.

So the next time you pick your children up from school, take them to an open field and let them explore for a while. On the weekends spend the day at the beach, even if it’s not sunny and warm — there are benefits in all kinds of weather. If it is raining outside, let your kids play in it. Force them if you have to! Encourage kids to ride their bikes to friend’s houses. Get to know your neighbors and create a community that watches out for the children so that they can play outdoors whether you live in an urban or a rural setting.

It’s time to rethink the environment our children spend most of their waking hours in to allow for more outdoor play and movement throughout the day. Let’s recall the 5-year-old “problem child” who couldn’t sit still in class. Now place him in a school environment that incorporates lessons outdoors. In order to learn about plants, he spends days with his classmates creating a garden behind the school grounds. To practice writing letters, he writes with a stick in the dirt. His physical education class is shooting hoops outside or mountain biking on nature paths in the woods. After school, he takes off with his sister to go build forts at the rock pit in his neighborhood. Along the way, two other children join them, as they make decisions about when it’s safe to cross the street, whether to climb some boulders on the way, and what type of materials they will use to build their fort with. Imagine the changes we would see in this child.

Studies indicate that when children switch from spending hours primarily indoors and sitting at a desk to one where the child is free to move and play throughout the day, the results can be drastic. Problems of poor attention and extra wiggles all but dissipate, and children become attentive and active learners. Unrestricted time outdoors fosters a joy of learning and confidence in one’s abilities — two critical elements in the classroom and in life. All it takes is some time and a place to play outside.

As a society we’re making great strides toward obesity prevention. While we are working to keep our children at healthy weights, we must also strive to ensure healthy behaviors, attitudes, sensory function, strength and coordination. This is true health, and to get it, our children should be introduced to a lot more outdoor playtime with their peers. Sixty minutes of movement is not enough!

Brussels sprouts!

brussell-s“I never tried them before, but I like them.” “May we have more?” Believe it or not, that is what many students were saying as they sampled roasted Brussels sprouts in the science room last week. First, all of the classes visited the garden for the last time for the season to observe our Brussels sprouts plants. Then they returned to the classroom to try some of the vegetable and learn about their health benefits. Many students (and adults) were pleasantly surprised!