A school in Rockford has embraced the SMART Curriculum and the results were fantastic. Fourth grade teacher, Megan McCall developed and implemented a ten day “detox” program for students leading up to the M.E.A.P. testing period. The students and their families were encouraged to follow the program prior to the M.E.A.P. testing. The “detox” entailed a commitment to no audio or visual exposure, including TV and video games, and instead play board and athletic games with their families. Students signed pledges, co-signed by parents, vowing to avoid video and online activities such as Facebook. By the time testing started last week, she said her students were different.
“I have some kids that are addicted to video games, that will play four to six hours a day,” she said. “I saw a total change in them. Everybody slept better. They had a lot more energy because they were so much more active. I’ll bet kids lost weight.
“You saw a difference, even in their eyes.”
So, instead of sending kids home after school, many of them stayed until 6 p.m. during detox for an assortment of games and activities led by 15 to 20 parent volunteers. That included kickball, arts and crafts, charades, cup stacking, juggling, “Harry Potter” games and more. Students learned how to shuffle a deck of cards and, surprise, discovered solitaire is more than a computer game.
“Some kids never had cooked, and they had a lot of fun. They loved bingo,” McCall said. “I wanted to go back to the simplicity of things. We went back to the basics.”
“I think they almost feel a sense of obligation to watch or do their hour of video. When it wasn’t available, it was such a different dynamic for them. I do believe, for the kids, it was almost a sense of relief that they didn’t have to do any of that.”
“For the first two days, it was like he was going through total withdrawal. He was whining and crying, ‘I can’t do this. I can’t do this,’” said Rahman, one of several parents enamored with the detox. “And then, this calming effect came over him.
“There was a lot more family interaction. We played more board games. We talked more. It was always a chore to get them out the door in the morning, and we didn’t have that problem in detox.”
Crediting incentives from local businesses, Rahman said, “It was almost like a whole community got behind these kids.” Students wore temporary tattoos that earned them special deals at area businesses, including discounts and free doughnuts.
A student-teacher who helped with activities after school, said students were more focused in school during the detox. And they were excited about the end of the day.
“Sometimes, parents would come to pick up at 5:15 or 5:30, and their kids were, like, ”I don’t want to go. This one little boy, the mother every night had something (positive about detox) to say. A lot of parents were sad to see it end.”
The MEAPs are under way, and McCall believes her students will do better on the tests because of the detox. She also hopes the lessons learned in detox will help students steer clear of excessive visual media all year. She cites letters from parents stating that, without TV and video games in the way, they reconnected with their kids.
“I’m guilty of it. My kids sit around and watch TV,” McCall said. “We went two weeks without TV and our whole lives, everything, changed. Everyone was happier. It was a totally different home environment. It was like we really came together as a family. It was healthy.