Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 71.djvu/249
THE HEALTH OF AMERICAN GIRLS.
are wet through. To sit in wet clothing is dangerous even for an adult woman.
This paper is intended to deal especially with those elements of a girl's life that are detrimental to her health, yet are usually overlooked. It is hardly necessary to include much discussion of the need of sleep. Every one understands that a girl needs about nine hours of sleep in pure air. At present there is a general enthusiasm among young people for outdoor air. If they do not take sufficient sleep it is not because they do not know the need of it.
The recreation of a girl ought to do something toward her recreation, not leave her more exhausted than all her work. But those who have studied the physical development of the girl tell us that the excitement and nervous strain of society and late hours are much more exhausting than hard study for a young girl. This does not mean that she should give all her time to her lessons, only that her amusement be something less wearing than study. She ought to have good times, she is the better for parties if they are limited to reasonable hours and to suitable companions. One element of a high-school girl's life which is seldom mentioned, but is often noted by her teacher, is the detriment that comes to her from social intercourse with those who are a few years older than she, especially with older men. If a girl spends one or two evenings a week in the cultivation of such friendships as these and reads a romantic novel every week it is to slight profit that she spends the rest of her time "over her books." It is pretty nearly impossible for her to concentrate her mind on her work.
It is a very common criticism that there is too much social life in the school itself. It is admitted, at least in this country, that children need some amusements. If other social distractions could be omitted what could give a school girl more harmless pleasure than the class dances and parties, under the direction of a teacher-chaperone, parties that include only people of her own age and experience and that close at a proper hour?
A girl's real re-creation is her out-of-door sports and she should receive every encouragement to those that she most enjoys. The implements of such sports — golf-sticks, tennis racquets, boats and skates — are better investments for parents' money than even pretty clothes, if there must be a choice of expenditures. Housework is one of the best possible forms of exercise if done in well-ventilated rooms; it might be profitably taught by mothers under the name of physical culture.
Music study is, I believe, hardly to be classed as a recreation, even though it happens that the pupil enjoys it so much that it does not appear a burden. It is mental work requiring close attention, memory and some eye strain. It makes about the same demands as an extra course in school, and if it seems best for the girl to continue much high--during the term, she should take five years for her