The natural language of children is motion. This is truest of the very young but remains relevant through the middle school years (and should remain true throughout life if we are to stay healthy). Increasing numbers of schools demand that children remain physically inactive for long periods of time during the day. This goes against the grain for most children and makes school seem like a prison to many of them.

Since the advent of No Child Left Behind class time has increased greatly for two subjects — math and English — and diminished for most others. This includes the arts, social studies, languages, and physical education. We have seen a push toward reducing or eliminating recess in many schools and now an effort is under way to transform gym class from its pure focus on physical activity.

Children work better at school when their bodies are exercised. Even the least physical children like to jump rope, swing, or play four square. We have all heard the reports that sitting in a chair all day contributes to many ills: obesity, passivity, disease. We should not contribute to the nation's sedentary inclination by asking our children to stifle their natural urge to move. We should celebrate that urge and give it lots of room for expression. This will not compromise learning. What compromises learning is asking children to be other than who they naturally are.

Kathreen Harrison is a longtime educator with a strong interest in school reform. She is currently a World Language teacher in RSU 13, but over the course of almost 30 years has worked in 10 schools in capacities ranging from classroom teacher to gifted and talented teacher to island curriculum adviser. She holds a masters degree from Bank Street School of Education and a bachelors degree from Harvard College. She lives in Camden.