April showers bring May flowers! I love the thought of that idea as I look forward to the days when the tulips are blooming, blades of grass are greening, and the air smells fresh and clean. Springtime means new beginnings . . . and time to be outside!
The other day, I was searching on Amazon, reading reviews of books that I’d like to get for my daughter. I’m always on the lookout for good books that will enlighten her as a new parent. I happened to stumble on a book called Balanced and Barefoot: How Unrestricted Outdoor Play Makes for Strong, Confident, and Capable Children by Angela Hanscom. The book is written by a pediatric occupational therapist who believes that today’s children are pre-occupied by video games and computer screens, and they are spending less time in play that develops their sensory, motor, and executive functions. Further, she makes a connection between this lack of play with cognitive difficulties and challenges with emotional regulation. Sure, many children are engaged in structured activities every day, but the author presents a case for spending time outside on a regular basis in unstructured play . . . rolling down hills, swinging, playing games, and exploring nature. As my daughter lives in the heart of New York City, I’m going to get this book for her.
I am increasingly worried about the pressures our children have in their lives and the scarcity of free time they have to imagine, create, play . . . and even experience boredom. It seems that if children don’t have a ‘resume’ of activities by the time they reach the prime age of four years, the alarm begins to sound for many parents. How have we gotten to this state for our children? I find myself questioning my own core beliefs . . . is it that I remember the ‘old days’ and am not ready to move into the 21st century of parenting, or is it that I’m truly concerned about our children’s mental, physical, and emotional well-being? I honestly think it’s the latter.
A few weeks ago, when I was outside on recess duty with third grade, I watched our children at play. Eight boys threw the ball and tumbled on the ground during the football game. They didn’t care that the ground was soggy – they just wanted to score a touchdown. Then there was the group digging in the sandbox, and the group playing on the equipment . . . I’m not exactly sure what they were doing, but it looked like fun! It was a beautiful winter day for outdoor play. We had to blow the whistle, though we knew they could have stayed much longer. Today, we understand much more about the brain than ever, and we know that play enhances memory, improves language skills, promotes reasoning skills, and increases motivation. While some schools are decreasing the amount of time for recess, we remain committed to giving children this time for unrestricted play.
With nine weeks remaining in the school year, I encourage you to sit down with the Breck calendar and make note of all of the exciting things to come . . . “Moving Up” grade level parent meetings, Field Day, portfolio sharing, grade level celebrations, and Lower School Closing. Sign-up is underway for the Breck Summer Program . . . has your child registered yet?
Enjoy the season,