Sometimes, your kids come home telling you something that seems too weird to be true. This Fall, my second grader came home saying that in his classroom, they have "working snack." Odd, I thought. Till Open House night when his teacher asked us to pack a snack the children can eat with ONE HAND so that they can eat and work at the same time.
As a mom, and a child psychologist, this broke my heart. This is not developmentally appropriate at all! The attention span of second graders ranges from around 5 minutes to maximum 25 minutes (and boys, by nature, will fall at the lower end of this range). In other words, kids of this age need frequent breaks and frequent shifts from one activity to another. Not honoring this truth simply increases the likelihood of bad behavior in the classroom!
My bigger concern, however, is the limit placed on time to socialize. Friendship skills are a huge part of the education of children this age. Shouldn't children be encouraged to eat their snack while chatting with their friends? Isn't this what we, as adults, do when we gather around the water cooler or grab a coffee with a co-worker?
As parents, can we instill change in our schools? Let's try. Let's speak up for rules and standards that just don't seem right. And, when our kids aren't in school, let's be sure we give them a lot of time to just be kids. Playdates that don't involve screen time, adult-directed rules, and time limits on having fun.
I am a licensed psychologist working with kids, teens, and adults with anxiety disorders.