Now that it’s warming up slightly, the elementary school teachers and day care centre staff will be grateful for the chance to send the children back outdoors to expel some of that pent-up energy.
Even when they’re home, parents can send them outside to play – or does that happen any more?
Current ad campaigns are encouraging “60 minutes of play” for children. It’s sad to think that ad campaigns are now required to encourage children to go out and play.
Granted many of our children live in urban environments with limited outdoor space, but there are parks and recreational areas where playing can happen. Perhaps there are too many indoor activities occupying their time.
Physical activity among children these days seems to be the structured variety. Their wintertime play is in organized sports such as hockey or figure skating.
Just think what these kids are missing – unbridled play involving a game you make up as you go along; a game of hockey with no equipment and where disputes are settled among yourselves not by referees; a match with no over-enthused parents yelling instructions from the sidelines and no pressure to perform for judges or to get those points to keep you on top of the scoring race.
The lack of this type of free play is getting the attention of our politicians.
Last week, the provincial government launched an Active Start program to provide “the foundation necessary to foster a lifelong enjoyment of physical activity in our Island children.”
Enjoying physical activity should be a given when you’re a child. Send children outside with a couple of other children of similar age and enjoyment and physical activity should happen naturally.
It sounds ridiculous that, first of all, a program is needed to get children outside playing, and second, that it includes an instruction manual and lesson plans as well as training and equipment “to teach core Fundamental Movement Skills in a fun, play environment.”
It’s a clear sign that we’re becoming too regimented when we need instruction manuals, lesson plans and training to teach children to play. If we have to teach kids to play, that’s a poignant statement about our society.
If we’re outside being active, playing and having fun, the children will be quick to follow suit. If they’re sent outside to find their own fun, they’ll find it.
Teaching kids “core fundamental movements” in a structured “play environment”, sounds like sucking all the fun out of play.