Are You Raising A Potted Plant?


There should be warning signs for parents on every child in America:  “Warning!  This is not a potted plant!  This is a human being that needs sunshine, free play in nature and lots of movement throughout the entire lifespan!  Warning!”


Too often our children today are treated like potted plants. Sterile, not moving, in a pot, watching only one view because the inherent nature of the human being to move is essentially ignored by our predominate educational system, our medical system, and our society at large. 


Children of all ages, birth through twenty-one, need to MOVE.  Children birth through age seven should be developing their will, their doing.  Movement also is learning.  I have read research estimates that 80 percent of the brain is devoted to taking in sensory information and deciding what to do with that information.    Almost any long-time teacher will tell you that most children are kinesthetic learners. 


We know from current research that school aged children need at least three to four hours a day of true rough and tumble outside play. Heavy work benefits ALL children and ALL adults.  We are wired for it!


In a classroom setting, just having ten minute breaks to really move every two hours can completely increase learning.  According to a 2006 study in the journal of Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, children with ADHD who take movement breaks for ten minutes every two hours show a 20 percent improvement in “on-task behavior.”


In Waldorf Education, we look at movement to be about a third of our learning time if possible.  We play movement games for math, we walk our forms before we draw them, we have eurythmy and Bothmer gymnastics in the Waldorf School setting, we include folk dancing in the curriculum for certain grades, we have drama and gardening.


You CAN do this at home and it will not complicate your homeschool, but enhance it!


Simple ways to start:


Finally, are you moving in your free time?  Are you cleaning, gardening, working? Hiking and biking and swimming and skating?  Or are you sitting down on your computer?  Just sayin’.  Smile


Happy Moving!


11 thoughts on “Are You Raising A Potted Plant?

  1. I love this post. Gross-motor skills are important and often forgotten. The comparison to a potted plant is a good one. This is a terrific reminder for me of something I believe but do not always practice.

  2. Thanks for the great resource list. Can’t wait to check some of them out. Since warm weather has come, we get up in the morning, eat breakfast and head outside for a few hours. I garden and landscape, and the children help me or play (jumping and running and swinging!). Midmorning we head inside and they play nicely for a while, then lunch, then we read together and eventually the smaller ones get bored and go off and play, my signal to do lessons with my first grader. I’ve found the early morning energy release really calms and settles them (and ensures we don’t end up outside in the heat of the day, when they complain it’s too hot!).

  3. Wonderful post! Love the emphasis on large motor skills for kids. We love to encourage families to get outdoors too – here’s a post on “8 Indoor Things to do Outside” that we shared hoping to have folks think outside the box and take some everyday activities out-of-doors:

    I usually refer to my teen as a ‘vampire’ when he’s sitting inside, but now I’m going to come up with a fun plant name for him 🙂

  4. Ha! Ha! I was talking to waldorfsaladandcottagefries on the phone and walking at the same time! Do I get extra credit? lol Carrie, as usual, a great post. Can I make a suggestion for all your spare time ; )? Podcasts! I would love to listen to you and your invaluable wisdom on my daily walks. Love to you.

  5. Thanks so much for this post! I was consciously thinking about how much we were moving all day. It got me up from what I was doing and I had a great time after dinner playing outside. I find when I am all enthusiastic then my boys join right along. My 4year old and I pretended we were different animals, we played fetch for quite a while! I was also reminded that since our kids need so much movement I should be more understanding when my boys are running and wiggling around the house all day. It’s because they should be doing it, they were made to move!!

  6. Carrie, I just have to tell you how much this post spoke to me. I’ve already been thinking so much about your other parenting suggestions, and when I read this, I decided it was time to really start doing instead of just pondering.

    Anyway, we’ve had night after night of troubles at bedtime with our two oldest girls who share a room. Just complete inability to settle down and go to sleep, often for a couple of hours. Yesterday, however, I kept them going — a long walk in the morning, plus an afternoon spent splashing in the water table and running around the yard. Well, guess what? We had two tuckered out little girls last night! I had to keep checking the monitor to make sure it was on the right room because I never heard one PEEP out of either of them. It was miraculous.

    I don’t know that we’ll always get silent nights from here on out, but the point was proven. It was a grand experiment, in my book. Thank you so, so much. You’re the best parenting book I’ve got!

    • Patra!
      All I can say is “YAY!” THat is so exciting to make a discovery like that!


  7. Hi,
    Great! Good recommendations for schools too, especially small schools with(and W/O) an emphasis on Waldorf education. Really helpful for those choleric boys who just cannot stop talking!(personal experience!) Movement. We have two little kittens and one can really compare them to children and what they really need. They don’t need manufactured toys! Just natural/real life situations(a good old fashioned yard) with stuff to play on, climb on and with. That is how they are learning about life, nature, survival and getting along with each other. They make their own fun without us humans/big people handing them something to play with. I think the greatest service I have done for my son is to have him outside and coming along, on hikes, gardening, landscaping, chicken keeping, ecetera. In spite of not being able (nor wanting ) to give him all the bells and whistles that our society offers in regards to extra lessons and sports and events, he has a great understanding for life from the ground up by observing and being in nature. Best book as a reminder of how nurturing and stimulating nature is: The Secret Garden!

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