Thursday, April 05, 2007

A Classroom of Monkey Bars and Slides

Jane Brody's writings in the NYTimes are always worthwhile. In this piece, she discusses "play" in modern times, where adults "help" children play, and how playgrounds have become so safe that they are boring. While I am one of those paranoid parents who gasped in the playground at each booboo, there is much merit in letting kids be kids at play and not manipulating or orchestrating their outdoor fun.

By JANE E. BRODY NY Times April 3, 2007

I remember fondly a joy-filled childhood in which we came home from school, gobbled down a snack and ran out to play until dark. We made up games, taught each other to roller skate and ride bicycles, ran and jumped, climbed and fell, fought and negotiated, and generally had lots of fun without adults telling us what to do.

In playgrounds, we climbed high slides, going up the ladder and the slide itself; soared on swings; swung from monkey bars; and seesawed, carefully balancing weight by moving up or down on the seat.

Play has taken on new forms in these “modern” times. Adults hover over preschoolers, “helping” them play nicely and preventing them from hurting themselves or others. For first graders and beyond, if they have any free time at all, most playgrounds have become so safe as to be utterly boring.

Unfettered playtime is more and more consumed, in school and at home, by academic programs, electronic media and games, and adult-organized activities at the expense of children’s physical, emotional and social development, say experts on play and its role in child development.

To read more of the article, please click on the title of this post.


OnlineMaven said...

In Jane Brody's article she mentions "Unfettered playtime is more and more consumed... by... electronic media and games"
I wonder what kind of POSITVE counter balance electronic game play provides to the safe outdoor playground. (Gasp! Video games can be used for good?!) In video games kids (and adults) can experiment and "die" without consequence. More people are willing to try something risky in a video game because there is the opportunity to learn with no real-world physical consequence.