Friday, January 7, 2011

Turning on the Imagination

This family is featured in today's New York Times, in a story about families and communities trying to restore playtime in their kids' lives.  

I found this article in the New York Times very interesting. It’s about an effort to restore playtime in the lives of children.

I’ve been hearing over the years that due to an enormous presence that technology has in kids’ lives these days, as well as kids being overscheduled with countless extracurricular activities, their imaginations have been stunted. But I guess I wasn’t quite aware of the extent until reading this article. It made me appreciate that our kids have vivid imaginations and that Hubby and I have fostered this along.

I have to admit, I likely allow too much TV, especially on cold or rainy days. But, we’ve been making a concerted effort to turn off the TV or the computer games and let the kids have their own make-believe time.

They may whine a bit at first, but it’s amazing how quickly they turn on their imaginations. I start hearing conversations between dolls, chugging noises from a choo choo train and playful banter throughout the house. One day, they built a fort in the basement made of chairs and a blanket. On nice days, they run around in the yard, make chalk drawings on the driveway and much more. Our house gets cluttered, but I'm okay with that. We have little kids who have toys strewn about and who play dress-up. That is life in our household and personally, I think that's how life in many households should be. But, hey, that's me. Not going to push my way of life on everyone.

This article also reported about some schools where recess is no longer permitted, because of a fear that kids will get hurt. Are you kidding me?? Groups are being developed across the country to bring back recess and playtime to schools and neighborhoods. Amazing. Maybe that’s why workplaces like Google, eBay and Facebook look like giant playgrounds because the staff at those companies missed out on playtime as kids. They have to go to work to learn how to play. :)

Please share your thoughts on this topic - would love to hear what you think.

Bowl Weekend
Enjoy your weekend, folks. Hope you have some fun activities planned. We’ll be cheering on my Kentucky Wildcats against the Pittsburgh Panthers in the BCVS Compass Bowl (whatever the heck that is) on Saturday.

Go CATS!!!!!!

Images from The New York Times and Lexington Herald-Leader


Town and Country Mom said...

I completely agree, and really cherish the years when my children were engaged in real "play." Thankfully, our elementary school offered daily recess in addition to pe and foreign language as well as all the core academics. You will not regret "unplugging" at home; houses can always be put back to order. Have a great weekend!

James said...

Just unbelievable isn't it? Still I think there are more parents like you than we think. I know my grandsons are being raised like your children are. So maybe there is a glimmer of hope. Good luck to your Wildcats.

Southern H and H said...

Kids not allowed to be kids. It is a sad state of affairs, no?

I applaud your efforts. You've doing so much good for your kids!

Have a great weekend!

Teresa at Splendid Sass said...

I had to put strict time limits on technology use at our home, especially the computer and video games. One hour per day, and I really had to fight them, haha.
Great post, Jen.
Hope your new year is off to a great start.

Tiffany from HOLIDAY said...

I'm going to print this out to read over the weekend. My favorite time was when Stella would set up "tablescapes" all over the house...she'd lay down a blanket, set up a tea party, etc. and I'd step over these in just about every room. And yet, I know she's learned a lot from TV, too...she loves Ni Hao Kai Lan. I think you just have to strike a healthy balance.

Speaking of healthy...I'm so sorry to hear you've weathered the bug twice this month, too. And yet somewhat releaved b/c I was starting to wonder what was going on w/ my immune system that I'd catch it twice like this. Pro-biotics, here I come! Have a great weekend, Jen! xoxo

Tote said...

I agree with James. I think there are more parents like you around. I think kids should be able to play and use their imagination at school, along with manners.
Have a great weekend!

Kerr said...

I babysat a lot in collge and every family I babysat for had restricted TV time for their kids. I asked my mom if she did that for my brother and I bc I couldnt remember. She said we always wanted to play outside and it wasnt until my brother was older and would play nintendo for hours on end that she had to make him take a break. I remember watching cartoons but I remember playing outside and with my dolls a lot more.

I can not imagine school without recess! that was the best part of the day. Kids need to have a time to run around and get some of their energy out before being cooped up in the classroom for the rest of the day.

bevy said...

We are a big "recess school" with a principal who will cow down on any teacher who even takes it away for punishment. Kids need to run around!

We unplug and restrict computer time. However, it is becoming more and more difficult with iPods and the like, especially when you have Tweens! We keep on teeing though!!!

Ella said...

You are a good mother. We have a room in our basement that sometimes looks like a war zone but if the wall could have been talking it could describe so many games that our kids had done with friends in that room.
Happy playing weekend!

Jo said...

As a teacher {having taught in a few states} this sadly, is a reality that is growing daily. I am amazed at how little children play creatively at home. I’ve heard the gamut of excuses. While we do have recess at school, it's not enough. The interaction with the world of play is most obvious when they are given a writing prompt ~ they don't have an imagination to draw from. They aren't to blame as the computer and TV take care of that for them.


Farmchick said...

Go Cats indeed!

Tickled Pink Talk said...

We are fortunate to live in a neighborhood where the boys can just go out and play with other kids. Sometimes they are out there all day! Just like the old days!! We are also lucky to have a great playroom that is totally their domain (except when John has poker!!). I love their imaginative play. They are still totally into playing with Legos! Luckily they get 2, sometimes 3 recesses a day. And we TOTALLY limit outside activities and they prefer it that way.
Interesting article! And comments too :)

LPC said...

I sent my kids, back when, to a school where pottery and weaving are both part of the curriculum. Enough said?

Beth said...

I was excited to see this article yesterday. There are many of us who are working to restore the culture of play--from building play spaces (KaBOOM!) to reviving recess (Playworks). Though a lot of the work seems to be in low-income, urban communities, there also seems to be parents, unlike yourself, who focus more on a rigid, schedule of activities than an opportunity for free and creative play--which is we know is so important and rewarding!

I love your theory on workplaces looking like giant playgrounds! I may quote on it. :)

hostess of the humble bungalow said...

Our Middle School offers woodworking, art, home ec, music as well as the regular subjects. Recess is very much needed by both staff and students...the choices are outdoor play, the gym is open for basketball-shooting hoops, I am in the Library which is open for old fashioned board games and cards, reading and 15 computers for research...before school at recess/lunch/ and after school....we discourage cellphones, especially texting.

The students who come to the library LOVE Monopoly, Scrabble, Risk, and other games...our student body is 400+ and they come from a very middle class neighbourhood...

I am not sure if this helps but it is representative of a group of kids from grade 6-8.
BTW many go to lessons after school...ballet, karate, soccer, swimming for examples

EntertainingMom said...

Completely guilty of allowing the kids to be plugged in too much! However, I generally make it a rule on the weekends that no TV between the hours of 12 and 5 or 12 and 7 (depending on my mood and the weather!) and so the kids have no choice but to play. Now, I know that I should put down the sponge, laundry, mop, writing and join them... is it too late to add that to my New Year's Resolution?

Beth Dunn said...

Play time is so key for children. The schools here still allow recess!

Mc Allen said...

I know, it makes me really sad. my nieces are one such school that is stopping recess. pretty soon we arnt going to even recognize this old world... Great post!! LA

myletterstoemily said...

you really struck a chord here and are
very wise to limit the electronic time
for your kids. who knows the damage
being done to kids who are allowed to
spend endless hours in front of the tv
or computer.

a creative, play-filled childhood is a
much healthier and fun way to grow up.

Henley on the Horn said...

I could not agree more. We place our children in way too many activities and do not allow them time to play. They no longer play games like Hop Scotch, jump rope games, or Red Rover. Our children enjoy riding bikes and making up all kinds of imaginary games. I love what you said about the clutter from their toys. The minute I think I have it all cleaned up,t hey've created something else. The good part is that they are using their imagination. And, after all, they say a strong imagination is an indication of strong intelligence. Bring on the millions of little tiny pieces that are on our floor constantly!

Tessa said...

Our schools might be the opposite - my 2nd grader gets 3 recesses a day!! I love to see imaginations hard at work. We do a lot of plays and make believe stories. I will give Andrew & his friends themes - a main character, a location, and a crazy prop and they run away with it - such as "A Spotted Pig, the Bowling Alley and Ping Pong Balls." This goes on for house at a time and I love it!!