This year I had the absolute pleasure of taking part in The Wellness Summit -not as an attendee but as a podcaster.
With nine hundred and fifty people in the audience, it was the biggest crowd that I’ve ever spoken in front of (and yes, very daunting!). My five minutes on stage with Brett Hill and Laurence Tham was a time to speak about my podcast and the essence of my message-that children need more movement, play and connection in their lives.
You can watch the video footage via my YouTube channel here. Or for the less animated version, you can read the transcript below.
Brett: Tell us about your podcast. Why would people benefit from listening?
Clare: This is a podcast for parents, it’s a podcast for teachers, it’s a podcast for anyone with a vested interest in children’s well being. For those of you with children in your life, there’s a lot of information in there-very much a message about how to get back to basics in regards to children, not just health and wellness.
Laurence: There’s so much pressure on kids right now. What are the three key ingredients for children to thrive?
Clare: It’s really simple. They need movement because our brain development is dependent upon it. They need to play because play is the natural, instinctive and joyful medium with which children actually develop the survival skills that they need for their life. And they also need connection because to feel seen, to feel heard and to have our unconditional love, that’s just a basic human need but I think it’s even more amplified for our little ones.
Brett: I love your podcast because it just fits so well with me and how I like to approach things with my kids. I’d love you to talk about how you feel that maybe schools may be failing to meet some of the needs of young children.
Clare: And I say this as a teacher! Sometimes as teachers we get it right but not necessarily the system. We’ve got our hands a little bit tied there.
The reason I think the education system is letting down the children of today is because they’re ignoring those three things I just talked about movement, play, connection. How much time to children actually get to do those things in a typical school day? They don’t and instead what they get is more and more of the same. More and more push and push and push towards academic goals that are not developmentally appropriate. And if the child struggles to reach those very lofty goals then all we do is we label them and we say there’s something wrong with them as opposed to us and our system letting them down.
Laurence: How many of you know of a child or maybe a child’s friends who have some sort of developmental issue of some sort? It’s a huge problem, why is that?
Clare: It’s huge and it comes down to a lot of messages that have already been shared here this weekend; things like what we’re putting in our body, on our body, what is around us. But there’s also so much in a child’s early years of life which determine whether they’re going to have those struggles or whether it will be really cruisy for them.
So many children are having problems during pregnancy and during the birth process.
Many children beyond that just aren’t getting enough tummy time. A lot of people don’t realise how crucial it is. When there isn’t enough tummy time a child doesn’t develop sufficient muscle tone, they don’t develop sufficient postural control. We think about that as only having an impact on a child’s physical development but in actual fact if your body’s uncoordinated, so is your brain. There is such a distinct connection there.
On top of that, even beyond babyhood, there are so many children who are not getting enough time to move in school, outside of school and there isn’t enough unstructured unsupervised play. We are just telling children what to do for too much of their days with our own agenda. There’s homework, there’s extracurricular activities, there is just not enough time for children to be.
Then I think on top of that the reason so many children continue to keep struggling is because we’re not actually realising that their behavior is a sign of communication. What a child needs developmentally we can always work out when we look at their behaviour, especially if it’s a behaviour that we don’t like. For example, I’ve spoken with lots of families this weekend who have a child diagnosed with ADHD. Regardless of whether a child has that label or not, when a child is hyperactive, they’re constantly moving and they find it hard to sit still and they find it hard to focus on something for any length of time. There’s the clue. They need more movement! They are driven to move more because that is what their brain needs to mature and develop and help them reach a stage where they can find stillness.
Laurence: That’s great. I think most parents out there would love to listen to this because of your experience as a teacher as well. So thank you so much.
The event image was taken by the lovely Stephanie of Total Capture Photography.