Tuesday, January 13, 2015

We Live In A World . . .

We live in a world in which playground swing sets are becoming a thing of the past, in which merry-go-rounds are disappearing, in which sledding in snowy parks is an act of civil disobedience.

We live in a world in which young children are increasingly made to spend the bulk of their days indoors, being drilled in developmentally inappropriate ways, on developmentally inappropriate material, just so they might pass developmentally inappropriate, yet high stakes tests. 

Five-year-olds are down to two 15 minute recesses per day, and then when they get home there are more hours of homework.

We live in a world in which weekends and evenings are full of soccer and piano lessons and tutoring sessions. 

We live in a world in which summer holidays are getting shorter while school days are getting longer.

We live in a world in which nearly half of Americans believe that it should be illegal for children under 12 to play unsupervised in a public park.

I'm not the first to ask, When to they get to have a childhood? 

It's driven by fear, of course: fear of lawsuits, fear of falling behind, fear of strangers, fear of the children themselves. That fear is robbing children of their childhoods and it is criminal.

Children need to scrape their knees and bump their heads.

No one needs to be reading by five, or seven, or even ten. Homework does little to advance learning and lots to create strife between parent and child. 

And it's inhumane to deny anyone their childhood quota of endless hours of aimless outdoor play.

We owe our children a childhood. We can't be afraid. They are counting on us to be brave on their behalf. Our fears are destroying childhood.

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Anna Prasad said...

Yet another brilliant post, I do love checking in on your blog regularly and am in awe of your methods and style. And your opinions!

Anonymous said...

You are so right.
When a friend told me that swing sets were going to be removed from parks I thought she was joking! I find it appalling. I mean no, nobody wants their kids to get hurt, but they do need to learn how to fall and things happen. it's really really sad. These poor kids.

Lisa said...

Agree 100%. Thank you for saying it out loud so eloquently. We do need to be strong and speak out for what is right for children.

Anonymous said...

Parents can legally opt out of testing if they wish...Schools will not tell you this, but you can refuse testing the heck out of your little ones. Physical play, especially for 0-5 year olds is essential for healthy development. One sadness is that the very equipment that is disappearing is what helps children with sensory development. So, if you do have children...put up a swing, teach kids to "log roll" down hills, make a spinning toy (a tire swing works well)and as many other skill building physical toys as you can. The early physical skills that children develop help them to read, do math, speak language, etc, later on and it is a travesty that it the opportunities are disappearing from public schools..

Nancy Schimmel said...

Alas, not everybody has a back yard to put a swing in. When I was under twelve, we played unsupervised in empty lots and nobody thought anything of it. Now the empty lots are all built on and the parks and playgrounds are being tamed. Sad.
As for opting out of tests, schools can be penalized, I believe, if too many parents opt out.

Jared said...

Just heard TAL#544 and thought there were some interesting examples of the protective instincts of parents everywhere - although more extreme in the case of blind children. A good listen if you haven't heard it: http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/544/batman

claudia said...

Beautifully said as usual!