My Connections to Play

You are worried about seeing him spend his early years in doing nothing. What! Is it nothing to be happy? Nothing to skip, play, and run around all day long? Never in his life will he be so busy again. ~Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Emile, 1762

A three year old child is a being who gets almost as much fun out of a fifty-six dollar set of swings as it does out of finding a small green worm. ~Bill Vaughan

You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.
~Plato

 

When I was younger, I was always outside.  We were constantly getting splinters from playing on the jungle gyms.

We rode our bikes everywhere that we went and most of the time we were I group just as this picture below demonstrates.  We also would most likely have someone who did not have a bike available riding on our handlebars and we did not wear helmets.

I was the tomboy out of my sisters and me so if there was a sport available to play I was there.  It did not matter if it was an organized sport or just a bunch of us from the neighborhood putting together a game.  Yes, sometimes I would be the only girl out there playing but I loved every minute of it.

When I was everyone that I knew supported a child playing. I was always encouraged to be active in doing something even if it was just playing in the yard. My mother was not squeamish about me playing in the mud or digging up worms. I roller-skated, skateboarded, and rode my bike in the street with no helmet of kneepads. When my father was not in the field or TDY, he was outside playing catch, taking me on long bike rides, or playing basketball or some other activity with me. I was always encouraged to do try an activity if I was interested in it, if I did not like it I did not have to do it again BUT I did have to finish what I started. For example, I tried cheerleading when I was in the 5th grade, I did not like it, and I thought it was too girly for me, but I had to finish out the season because I had made a commitment to the squad. After the season, I did not have to do it again. Kids were always active and outside running around, riding bikes, or something. We would be out past the streetlights coming on running home praying our parents did not notice yet, then back outside as early as they would let us the next day.

Children today are not encouraged to go outside and play. Many sit inside and play video games, play on the computer, or watch cable television. Children today have no interest in going outside and parents do not encourage it. Many times it feels like the television and video games have replaced babysitters because as long as the game is on the children are sitting there playing and the parents do not have to worry about where they are or who they are with. The children that I do see outside and this includes the children I work with at the daycare center after about 10 minutes are looking for shade and complaining that it is too hot outside and want to go back into the air conditioned building. Outside play seems to be ceasing to exist with each generation of children. Then parents wonder why children are lazy and overweight.

As a parent and educator, I constantly encourage children to play outdoors. At work, I take my class outside whenever we are allowed. If the playground is not saturated with water and the temperature is above 32 degrees, we are outside playing in the winter. In the summer is the same way if the temperature is not too hot, we are outside usually playing a water game of some sort. As a child, I did not like to be in the house, as an adult I do not like to be in the house, so my children and I are always outside doing something. They all play baseball/softball and I help coach their teams. We bike ride, go camping, fishing, hiking, play basketball in the backyard, walk to the store, you name it we do it. If the weather is nice out, my children are not permitted to sit inside the house and play video games or watch television all day. They must find something to do, my oldest son is not really into sports, and so while his siblings play basketball in the backyard, he sits outside and reads a book. I do not get mad because he is making an attempt by sitting outdoors, which usually means he is conned into playing a game with them anyways. It is important for children to engage in play whether it is indoors or outdoors. Play gets the imagination going and children learn from their environment. I personally love sitting with my children in the classroom in any of the centers and engaging them in play. It always amazes me the things they create and the places their imagination takes them, for example, a toddler turning a toy mixer that is missing the beaters and turning it into an iron to get the wrinkles out of a baby blanket. Children to this day continue to amaze me and that is part of what I love about my career.

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Leslie
    Jan 29, 2012 @ 00:38:07

    Father’s are the best. I love you sharing your childhood memories. It is so important for a father to be a part of a childs life and to be be active. Your memories of your father reminds me of my dad, he was great too. He passed away a few years ago and I have accepted that he was with good man and spent with us. He took us fishing when we were young and I loved it. I told myself that I would take my daughter fishing (after we leard to swim, lol) to keep his memory.
    Thanks.

    Reply

  2. Shelley Underhill
    Jan 29, 2012 @ 16:06:09

    April,
    It sounds like you had a very physically active childhood which is wonderful and very healthy. The school I teach at also has the children out in all sorts of weather. Even in the rain since I live in the Pacific Northwest it rains a lot! I enjoyed reading all of your quotes but the one by Plato really resonated with me.

    Reply

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