Wednesday, September 23, 2009

On the Playground

I just can’t seem to get playing games out of my head. When we drove past a playground the other day, it seemed that the children were walking aimlessly around the playground wishing they had something to do. Of course you had the usual amount of children on the swing set but the others seemed lost. That is when I began to remember all the fun I had at recess when I was in elementary school.

What happened to all the wonderful games we used to play? I remember playing jumprope, hopscotch, tag, dodgeball, kickball, and even marbles. Do any of the children play these games anymore?

Why don’t kids play jacks anymore? It taught counting, dexterity, speed and was just plain fun.

This summer we tried to teach the children hopscotch and they looked like it was some foreign activity. They didn’t know how to hop on one foot in the squares and they didn’t understand how to turn around and go back. It was fun to watch though.
Marbles was fun because the winner got to keep the marbles. It seemed like the marbles went back and forth among the players though because you realized if you got all of the marbles, no one had anything to play so you played alone.

Have we gone so rigid that we keep the children from playing these games in fear of them getting hurt? I realize that they may swallow jacks or marbles but the little ones usually didn’t have them and the older kids did. Many schools are banning tag because someone might get hurt. But if the children are well supervised, why can’t a teacher explain that they need to play gentler or the person will be sitting out of the games. How will children learn if we don’t let them play and explore their boundaries while we are there to guide them?

I feel like lately society is too quick to react out of fear of injury and litigation. My cousin’s child fell off the slide this week on his first day of kindergarden and broke his arm in two places. My cousin said the school and the hospital treated them wonderfully and she has no intention of suing anyone because it was just an accident. Thank goodness for that attitude or I’m afraid they will take the playground equipment out next!

As adults, I think we need to use more common sense. Accidents will happen. Children can play rough and someone might accidentally get hurt but if a teacher acts early, many times this can be prevented.

Recess time is just as essential as classroom time but I feel only if we allow the children to play. If we put too many rules and limitations on them where they can’t do anything but walk slowly in aimless wandering, we are defeating the purpose. Children need to get out their excess energy as well as learn how to play with others. This is a natural part of their development. It is important to being successful as they grow up.

What kind of games did you play as a child that you don’t see them playing anymore? Maybe this would be a good time to teach your students some of those games.

Original image: 'vandalism?' by: Who Am I?


EeHai said...

Teaching is of more a prevention than cure. Anticipating what is coming up with any student will aid the child in removing obstacles along the way. This goes to playing as well where teamwork is enhanced and communication skill is practiced. Though games we played long time ago may vanish, taken over by example PSP mobile unit, team game should be encouraged to instill the importance of working together and playing safe.

Maths is Interesting!
Anything Gorgeous

Unknown said...

I totally agree. Kids need recess to help them learn. It teaches creativity sharing and working as a team. I feel that recess is as important as any other subject.

Jonathan Wylie said...

Sometimes I see the same signs you do. The imagination seems to be gone. I think the fact that we are approaching a situation where we have to teach children how to play games, is a sad state of affair, but it is something that is needed. Where did we learn? How did we learn? I think we learned from other kids, or siblings, so somewhere along the line there is a developing breakdown in the traditional self taught skills on the playground.

BookChook said...

I think you're right about fear of litigation. Kids aren't learning how to take sensible risks, because we are sanitizing their play.

In fact, I have begun some posts on my blog where I'm recycling some of the clapping and skipping chants I remember, all in the name of literacy. I'm creating a little pdf to pull it all together, and will let you know when it's done, Pat.

Saelient said...

Recess is a completely essential part of a young student's day! We loved recess, we even made up our own games, like Sizzle, Gonedee, Shaq, Bumblepuppy, and so many others. I fear for kids these days, with so many rules and regulations limiting their fun. I was happy to see that the child who was hurt on the slide was not involved in any legal matters. It is a necessary time for kids to release their energy, and socially bond.

loonyhiker said...

@EeHai I never got into team sports much. The competition and peer pressure caused me a lot of anxiety! I miss seeing things like jump rope and jacks though.

loonyhiker said...

@alcornkr Kids learn so much during free play. I'm afraid that we have become so rigid that we have eliminated creativity and imagination.

loonyhiker said...

@Jonathan Wylie I remember playing with big refrigerator boxes or boxes from the cafeteria. We had a ball using our imagination. You are right that I think a lot of this was passed down from older children who took a leadership role. When we got older, we took that role. Now if the older kids don't learn and pass this on, the younger kids are losing out.

loonyhiker said...

@Kole I totally agree with you!