The Sedentary Advantage

A few of you might remember this story from last year: University of Warwick professor claims reading to your kids unfairly disadvantages other kids.

The basic idea he proposed was that by reading to your kids you give an advantage over the kids whose parents can’t or don’t read to them. Therefore you need to be aware of that and keep it in mind. Of course, he got destroyed by nearly everyone for suggesting we shouldn’t read to our kids just so we can keep an even playing field with those from less advantaged home situations.

It got me thinking. Am I disadvantaging my kids by reading to them?

What would my kids do if I didn’t read to them? Play? Watch TV? Draw? Wrestle? Go outside? Find ways to stay busy?

Think of the potential benefits kids can get from those things. Take playing for example. Kids learn so much from playing, particularly if it’s outside. My kids could be developing all those things but instead I’m reading to them and creating dependence on me. That’s not fair for them.

I say those parents who don’t read to their kids owe it to my kids to keep their kids more dependent and sitting down more. It’s not fair to my kids that all those other kids are developing physically or creatively while we sit sedentary reading books. My kids might be smarter but think of the shame they’ll endure on the football or soccer field, drawing contest or science fair. It’s just as unfair.

Similarly, we need to ask ourselves if it’s fair to our kids that we ask them to go sit in classrooms all day from the age of 5 when we’ve been preparing them by doing the exact opposite. From a very young age we are encouraging them to get outside, entertain themselves, be creative and keep busy. Move around, play, make noise, get dirty and, most importantly, have fun and be kids.

Then we expect them to go sit in a chair, (and sit still) for hours and do well with it?

Kids who have a hard time sitting still in class aren’t bad kids. Their parents disadvantaged them because they didn’t prepare them for the classroom enough. Way too much outdoor time and development of independence and creativity from the ages of 2-4.

I’ve been giving terrible advice all these years. Don’t reconnect to nature. You won’t be prepared for the future! Get inside and get out your books and worksheets!

I’m being playful with this post but there’s an element to this that I want to be taken seriously. I agree that it’s important to teach them and culture them to interacting in a school setting and there are many valuable things to be garnered from going to school. However, there’s a discordance in how we ask our children to act from their true nature so we can’t be surprised if it doesn’t come easy for many of them. We also need to be very careful about how much we push extra curricular school type behavior on our children. They might be a little smarter from extra studying and academics but they get disadvantaged in so many other ways that are crucial for developing well rounded and healthy humans. Even our indispensable tablets and smartphones play a role in this and should be considered as part of school type behavior.

We get better at what we spend time doing. If we want our kids to be better at going to school and playing on electronics, then let’s push that. We just have to ready to explain ourselves to the parents of the kids who are disadvantaged. They might be more well rounded but our kids are going to have the much desired sedentary advantage.

Thanks for reading, have a great day!

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