Why Common Core is bad for children’s health: unnecessary stress, unhealthy eating habits and more
Julie Wilson –
Common Core, a set of federally backed standards for public school curricula, is not a method for learning but rather memorization, a technique focused on standardizing academia while ignoring the benefits of creativity and play time, says Katie Hurley, a child and adolescent psychotherapist and parenting expert.
In a Huffington Post blog article, Hurley airs her grievances about Common Core; a curriculum she says is placing unnecessary stress on her first grader, dampening her social skills, and leaving her no time to just mellow out and be a kid.
Author of The Happy Kid Handbook: How to Raise Joyful Children in a Stressful World, Hurley is well educated about the needs of today’s youth, and it’s not Common Core, she says. Despite never having experience taking tests until this year, her six-year-old daughter is challenged by at least four per week, sometimes five.
One test too many
You may be wondering “What’s the big deal?” she asks. Well, “This is first grade we’re talking about. For the first couple of weeks of school, it actually wasn’t a big deal. As the daughter of a musician and a psychotherapist, she’s actually one of the lucky ones.
“There is no pressure to perform, academically or otherwise, in this house. We believe in creativity, low stress, and happiness,” Hurley says. But soon she felt her daughter was feeling pressured to keep up with the other students. If she missed more than one question, she would have to retake the test the following week.
The requirement placed on teachers to strictly follow Common Core is another problem, says Hurley, because it eliminates their freedom to design “fun and engaging” lesson plans.
“Today teachers are being forced to follow a script. They teach to tests and fear job loss if they don’t see the expected results,” Hurley wrote. This is not an attitude that favors or values creativity for teachers or students.
“Creativity is dead”
Common Core focuses heavily on “busywork,” says Hurley, writing and rewriting words and sentences and filling out repetitive packets. “Creativity is dead,” she says; there’s no encouragement for free thinking.
“Forget about problem solving, group work, and thinking outside the box, these kids need to memorize the core curriculum first. It’s as if creativity holds no merit. … Don’t we want to inspire kids to be thought leaders and world changers?”
Another huge problem with Common Core is that its implementation seems to coincide with the elimination of recess. The demands of the curriculum are so high that there’s no time for recess. Because of all the testing that goes with Common Core, it wouldn’t be fair to force schools to have recess, said the superintendent of an elementary school in Orange County, Fla.
Her comments were made to a local news station after a student’s parents tried to fight the measure.
“Recess is when kids truly practice social skills. They take turns. They negotiate. They initiate friendships. They learn to cope with disappointment,” wrote Hurley. “Sometimes they work together. Sometimes they don’t. But either way, they learn to work it out. But not if they don’t have recess.”
And lack of recess leads to other problems of course, such as insufficient exercise, a major problem in a nation where childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents over the last 30 years. Education will further plummet as children are forced to sit in classrooms all day without time for physical activity, which has been shown to improve academic performance and cognitive function.
School lunch time has also been cut down because of Common Core’s inflexible demands. This forces “kids to wolf down food before the bell rings. So much for listening to hunger cues and chatting with friends — there is no time for that,” Hurley wrote.
“Kids need downtime. There is a lot of talk about over-scheduling and the stress that results from too much going and not enough resting. But kids today are faced with a lot of homework.”
In conclusion, Hurley says, “It’s time to rethink the Common Core. Stress is dangerous and impacts physical and emotional health. It’s no way to live, and it’s no way to raise our children.”