When My son entered the school system I was broached with the topic that I should have him tested for ADHD. It was explained to me that he fidgeted, that he hummed, and that while he could complete all of his work and was exceptionally bright he had problems focusing. As a mother I was distraught in dismay that I was being told this about my child.
I took my personal feelings out of the situation, and began to do my research. I looked at the bigger picture and realized that my son was only 4 years old and in a school that did not allow children to run at recess for fear of lawsuits. The children only had gym once a week and this gym class did not always occur. How was my energetic child supposed to sit for 8 hours a day without a physical release? I spoke with my pediatrician who told me that ADHD should not be diagnosed before the age of 7.
I also began reading Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain written by John J. Ratey. The book gives specific examples about how exercise correlates to brain function. Studies were done with failing high school students and it became evident that by having children run laps and perform physical exercise before schooling every day their grades improved.
The Trouble With Boys: A Surprise Report Card on Our Sons, Their Problems at School, and what parents and educators must do by Peg Tyre was another helpful read. It looks at the alarming drop out rate of boys in school as a result of the immense focus on academics and the banning of recess at a time when boys are learning how to sit still. It talked about failing test scores as a result of the low emphasis of exercise confounded with rising drop out rates.
I took this information to heart and realized that not only was I not at the right school with my son, but he needed more exercise. I enrolled him into Mixed Martial Arts class and he was allowed physical release as well as learning discipline and focus. Mixed Martial Arts helps him redirect and refocus all of that energy into skill, and Sensei Klein works hard with him redirecting his attention span and constantly changing his curriculum to help him focus. He concentrates on listening skills speaking to the children on the importance of ear focus and eye focus.
Research done by “live strong” and “baby center” shows that Mixed Martial Arts and Karate can greatly improve a child’s ability to focus and while some children may still need medication for ADHD and ADD children, they still show improvement with Karate and Martial Arts.
My son just finished his first year in Kindergarten. He takes 4 hours a week with Sensei Klein and is at a school that values physical activity. Yes, he is still a ball of energy, but he has done well this year both academically and behaviorally. His teacher’s embrace who he is. ADHD, Hyperactivity, and children being children can be very confusing… take some time and do your research. It can be overwhelming but worth it!
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