Sunday, February 28, 2016

Get crazy—let your kids go outside and play

Kids aren’t playing enough. Plain and simple.

As in: play time, unstructured, lots of imagination, no adult direction or rules, you know, playing outside, building the pillow fort, making up stories about monkeys and ghosts, “I’ll be the monster and you be the monster catcher…”….

University of Michigan researchers did some checking, and concluded that kids ages 6-17 spent twice as much time playing outdoors in the 1980s as they do now.

Here’s an unforgettable memory of my childhood: my mother routinely said to my brother and me, “You boys go outside and play.” It was up to us to decide what to do.

Let’s nail this part down: “playing outside” does not mean suiting up for the traveling soccer team’s semi-championship game two states away after putting in 35 hours of “mandatory” practice every week, especially if you’re 9 years old.

In her new book Beyond Measure, education reformer Vicki Abeles says “…in these unstructured moments [of free playtime]…children develop essential capacities for reflective thought, creativity, social skills, and self-control.”

Amen to that.

Vicki Abeles, Beyond Measure, New York: Simon & Schuster, 2015, 47-48.

Copyright © Richard Carl Subber 2016 All rights reserved.

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