Tag Archives: play

The Death of Play

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Princess is entering her third week of kindergarten and we have had some mishaps along the way that were brought up at orientation night last Thursday.  Like all parents, I received a booklet of the ABC’s of Kindergarten, examples of kindergarten homework, handwriting tips and a poem called “Just Playing.”  I quickly flipped through it there, and then spoke with the teacher of how we can help ease the Princess’ adjustment to kindergarten.  After all was said and done, we went home and I read the booklet more thoroughly.  After everything, all I can say is that I feel bad for the generation in which my daughter was born, for it is the generation that could be easily labelled “The Death of Play.”

This is the first year of all-day kindergarten in Toronto and it is clear that most teachers, parents and students are having some trouble adjusting.  The teacher openly admitted that come 2:30, it becomes “The Twilight Hour” with a portion of the children in full on meltdown mode.  Princess even fell asleep on her desk last week.  The children are tired and from 12 pm to 3:22, they are inside a classroom for “play based learning.”  Granted I’m not a teacher or  an Early Childhood Educator, but perhaps it would be good for the children to have a short outside break in the afternoon.  Most children have the attention span of a gnat and being cooped up may be the cause of the “Twilight Hour”.

But the main point of my argument is that in this booklet, the poem that was included to represent the “play based learning” curriculum.  In it, when a child is at the kitchen centre, we’re not supposed to say “they are just playing” but instead say “they are learning to be mother’s and father’s someday.”  When a child is painting, we’re not supposed to say “they are just playing” but instead say “they are learning to be an artist.”  While I am in complete agreement that children certainly excel developmentally and socially through play, let’s leave it at that, play.  I feel that if play no longer is just play, and it becomes muddled and adds more stress and pressure onto children.  Instead of correcting children and  saying “No you aren’t playing, you are learning” maybe just say “go enjoy yourself.”  Maybe the Princess doesn’t want to be a Mother when she’s older, maybe she doesn’t want to be an artist.  She just enjoys playing.

I remember what play felt like as a child.  I didn’t have special toys that encouraged learning, I found a million different uses for a skipping rope.  I wasn’t “learning” how to use my muscles, I was playing cow girl, or the skipping rope turned into a circular force field against the alien menace that was after us.  When I climbed trees, I wasn’t “learning” about ecology, I was building a fort or hiding from my friends.  I enjoyed being a kid for the sheer fact that play was simple, pure and innocent.  I didn’t feel pressure to “learn” and I think I turned out ok.  I am a confident, well spoken,  contributing member of society.  I don’t think it is unreasonable to wish that for my daughter too.

Children today are more medicated, have higher stress levels, are more likely to become depressed and suicide rates are getting higher for younger children, some as young as the age of 9.  I believe the insane amount of pressure that is put on children to be the very best is leading to this.  Honestly, at the age of nine, what stresses should you really have?  Whether to play tag or hide and seek?   I want my daughter to do well in school academically and apply herself and develop a great work ethic, but I also want her to be able to say “well now that school and homework are done, I am going to go have fun and not worry what I should be learning while running away from the big bad Monster Poo Poo Pants.”  Children and childhood are pure and innocent and should be left that way.

Max and Ruby are Coming to Toronto!

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The Princess loves Max and Ruby.   They are a loveable brother and sister, who get up to all sorts of activities with friends and their grandmother.  Their parents are never in any of the episodes which is bizarre to me, but the show is very child appropriate.  We have many of their DVD’s and much to my dismay, they are toddler friendly, which means after 10 seconds of selection, it starts by itself.

Well Max and Ruby are now putting on a play this December 15th at the Sony Arts Centre in Toronto and I think this will be a great birthday gift for my little girl.  She’s getting older now so her attention span will be longer and I think to see this live will make her so happy.  Toronto4Kids is having a pre sale of the tickets with a special code so if you are in the Toronto area and your child loves Max and Ruby, then this may be the show for you!

Parents Less Likely to Take Daughters Outside to Play

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Reel Girl

Time Magazine is reporting that new research shows “preschool girls are 16% less likely than boys their age to be taken outside by their parents to play.”

This is a fascinating article and you should read it. It speaks a lot to parents expectations of their children. I really think that parents still have drastically different expectations for their daughters than sons.

How to change that? Try to be aware of how your expectations are gendered, even if you think they’re not. Try to be more open. For moms, that may mean going out of your comfort zone. Sign your daughter up for  a class where someone else will challenge her in a way that maybe you can’t, in a way that she isn’t used to. Get excited about whatever that class/ skill is. Parenting is so challenging but be careful not reinforce stereotypical “feminine” qualities that are useful to…

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