Thursday, May 3, 2012

Why don't children play anymore?

I help drive around kids a couple of days a week. They are involved in all kinds of sports and classes and activities, and their parents just can't keep up with all of the frenzied shuttling around the area. Granted, their jobs are such that it is impossible to be available to do this all of the time. It's great that the kids are able to get in some regular exercise as they practice with their teams or individual sports. But where is the play time?

When I was a kid, my parents owned their own furniture store. Because it was a "Ma & Pa" operation, they couldn't depend on someone else to keep an eye on things while they drove us around. The only other adult available was my grandmother, but she had macular degeneration that prevented her from driving at night. My parents knew they couldn't return the favor, so they didn't impose on any of their friends. My sister and I did not participate in a ton of extra activities, but that was okay. We played.

As soon as we got home from school, we often ran outside to go play in our yard. We lived at our store and had a full acre to explore. We had a side yard with a swing set and a swimming pool. We lived next to a neighborhood where we could ride our bikes. There was an abandoned lot with a track for riding bikes or running or simply creating adventure mysteries.

If we were inside, we played all kinds of other games. Some were store bought. Many were made up on our own. 

Play is important to children. As they act out situations, they learn how to deal with the confusion of their own lives as they try out different scenarios. They do not necessarily realize that this is what is happening, but it is. They need time for unstructured running around and craziness. But today's society seems to have driven them to even schedule their fun; and that makes me sad.

1 comment:

  1. Unstructured play really is invaluable. I remember it well from my own childhood and it was a rich part of my experiences.