There was an article in our Sunday paper this weekend referencing the fact that kids do not have free play time these days. The article quoted college professors, teachers and other experts in the field of play ( now that sounds like a job I would want! How do you become an expert in playing???). The article also said that “educators, parents, child-development specialists are attending play conferences, and teaching courses on how to play, and starting leagues for the kinds of activities that didn’t used to need leagues.” It also noted that parents are now sending their children to seminars to learn how to play games like marbles, kick the can, and other typical childhood games. Seminars to learn to play, Conferences for child-development specialists, teaching courses on how to play…..does anyone else see anything wrong with this scenario?
Kid’s lives these days are so stressed, structured, and stifled. They are given few opportunities to catch lighting bugs outside until it’s way past their bedtime, play in the sprinkler, play spud, free-all, kick the can, sardines or other outdoor games, jump rope, play hopscotch, build forts, jump in the fall leaf pile, play flashlight tag at night……..my list could go on and on. Kids do need time to play, it should be unstructured, FREE time. Let them decide what to do, let them make decisions, use their creativity, and let them deal with the consequences of their decisions. When my kids were little I purposely did not put any toys, swingsets, slides etc back in our woods, I wanted them to learn to play with rocks, sticks, mud etc. And guess what, they did play with those things and had a blast, and I never heard one complaint about their lack of toys. They used their minds to build a dam in the creek, they used their problem solving skills to build a fort and decide the best place for a window and a door, they used their creativity to design pencil holders, vases, and dishes made from natural clay, and they played outside for hours!! Let me also be the first to confess we are the typical, busy, family with many activities, but I always build into our schedule time to PLAY! My kids have a whole life ahead of them filled with structure and stress, they only have one childhood, and time period in their life where they can PLAY.
Do we really need child development experts, seminars or “experts” in the field to tell our children how to play, isn’t that something parents should be making time for?
………Oh, yea, oops, ah sorry, I just realized I was standing on top of a soapbox, wow how did I get up here, I guess I’ll get off of it now. 🙂