Monday, May 21, 2007

When We Need ‘Play Advocates,’ We’re in Trouble

This is what it has come to.

Adults have to teach kids how to play.

This weekend I read a truly disheartening piece in the New York Times that featured Michael Cohill, described as a “toy designer and enthusiastic,” who runs marble seminars to teach children how to play marbles.

Noting that playground games like hopscotch, four squares, Red Rover, tag (remember when some school districts sought to ban this?) or simply going outside “to play” has fallen out of favor under the watchful eyes of today’s hyper-parents, the Times quoted Joan Almon, a “play advocate,” (how pathetic is it when we need “play advocates?”) saying, “These kind of games, including tag, have practically died out.”

“Ms. Almon bemoaned the fact that she often drives through leafy suburban streets on a sunny afternoon and sees no children playing.”

The problem? It has become unfashionable to allow our kids to simply be kids, to live simply, without having every moment of their little lives scheduled. By some parents’ standards, if your kid isn’t signed up for activities for every second of every day, well, then you and your kid are just slackers.

When did childhood – which now includes an avalanche of grade school homework necessitating direct parental involvement and an excess of organized sports – become so complicated?

(Image from the New York Times.)

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