Are you tired of your kids watching too much television and wanting too many electronic techno gadgets? Do you feel queasy when an advertiser bombards your psyche demanding that you buy their product or you are not a good parent?
When I was young (decades ago) there were no bombardments at stores and on television that my mother must buy a certain program or I was doomed – or at least headed toward a slower ascent in school rather than being at an advantage – or a prestigious leader. Sure, I Love Lucy was advertising Vegameatavitamin Juice but she wasn’t pushing “educational” programs, even after she had Little Ricky.
My parents grew up during the Depression and they followed their gut, and pocketbook. They used good old-fashion COMMON SENSE. We had many hand-me-downs, upcycled toys (never heard that word until recently) or repaired things to ride and play with – and we didn’t care. We were having fun - outdoors. My parents had five kids and we were prepared for any weather. I get it. Mom needed some alone time to wash, cook, clean and sew. She wanted us out of her hair, but it was the best possible excuse for us kids to explore and discover the great outdoors. Totally unsupervised tag-along-after-my-brothers’ excursions were my favorite.
We knew to be back around supper time and always back before dark. We shared an old canteen of water when we remembered to bring it, otherwise there were drinking fountains at the park which was 10 miles away. We rode our bicycles there often, up a very steep hill and almost never had any problems. If we encountered a problem, we solved it without cell phones. On rare occasions, if needed, we weren’t afraid to knock on a stranger’s door for help. Actually, we knew most of the people in our town or they knew someone in my large family.
Do We Live in a More Advantageous Time?
The older I become, the more I think, I had the advantage growing up in an era when outdoor play was the norm. Here’s why. Through outdoor play, I learned:
- How to communicate, share, socialize, follow game rules, and problem-solve
- Develop fine and large muscles
- Use my imagination to develop new games using whatever we had (rocks, balls, cans, sticks, chalk)
- Connect to my neighbors experiencing a sense of community and of belonging
|Photo by |
What Did I Play?
- Jacks (I was the Queen of Jacks – spent many hours on the front porch playing with old rusty jacks and the same golf ball)
- Jump rope
- Skates (hand-me-down metal skates with a key to adjust size – not exactly speedy)
- Bicycles (old bikes my father kept repairing)
- Dolls were carted around in wagons and buggies
- Kick the can
- Basketball, softball, catch
- Hola Hoop
- Pogo Stick
- Croquet (We didn’t have a set but our best friends did)
- Hide and seek
- Hopscotch, laid out on sidewalks with white chalk from school.
- Collections: I loved collecting locust shells in the daytime and fireflies at night. This was in Kansas where there are plenty.
|Photo by |
Practically nothing in terms of money – huge in terms of development. Free Range Kids: How to Raise Safe, Self-Reliant Children without Going Nuts with Worry by Lenore Skenazy is full of research - and humor. This is quoted from her book: "...70 percent of today's moms say they played outside as kids. But only 31 percent of their kids do." Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine reports that of a sample of preschoolers representing 4 million children, about half had parent-supervised outdoor play activity per day. At least sixty minutes a day is recommended.
Things I Did Not Do:
I didn’t watch much television or play organized sports. I was in school bands and orchestras. Television was in black and white when we finally got one and there were few children’s shows available. We did watch The Lone Ranger and I loved the Heidi movies when they were on. Shirley Temple was adorable. I still want curly hair.
Things I Did:
- Went to library (Gasp! We had no ebooks, iPads, cell phones, iTunes, game stations).
- Rode my bike hundreds, probably thousands, of miles exploring everywhere I could.
- Swam most summer days in the town pool.
- Swung in an old tire swing - that was even in our front yard - and walked to the Catholic school playground which still has teeter-totters, swings and a Geo Dome.
Now I'm a “retired” teacher, author and blogger. Through blogging, I met my good friend Katie from Mommy with Selective Memory who is always looking for ways to educate her preschoolers – to make them as smart and happy as she can. She went on a search to find answers and even bought flashcards! I talked her into tossing them and doing playful activities with her preschoolers. She told me that she had no clue what to do with them even though she loves them dearly but that some days they were driving her crazy. What could she do when they took road trips or why wasn’t her daughter making neighborhood friends? How could she best help them develop physically, mentally, emotionally? We searched and there was no book for moms who don’t own a glue gun or know what to do with their toddlers or preschoolers. They just know they love them and want what is best for them.
So we collaborated and wrote a book to help other moms in similar circumstances. It is filled with inexpensive activities and explains the child development benefits behind them: The Happy Mommy Handbook: The Ultimate How-to Guide on Keeping Your Toddlers and Preschoolers Busy, Out of Trouble and Motivated to Learn. Or you might like a glimpse into Kindergarten. Both are bestsellers and make helpful gifts for parents and teachers. Also available on Barnes & Noble and Kobo.
Let Children Experience Childhood.