Monday, July 07, 2014

Enforced play

I read a lot of articles that make me nervous. And it's got to do with school. But it doesn't have to do with them keeping up with school though I do worry about that some times. It's got to do with how  our system keeps them indoors and seated at the table for too much time. And how, that isn't a healthy thing. Sitting at the table is synonymous with doing work, doing work is synonymous with learning things and learning things is a good thing therefore being indoors and sitting at the table is a good thing.

But the contrary, according to the articles, seems to be true. How to keep the kids from fidgeting in class? Send them out to play. How to keep the kids focused in class? Send them out to play. How to keep them from becoming myopic? Send them out to play.

So even though I have been part of the system, I find it difficult to accept the long table hours that JED (more Jordan and Evan and in particular, Jordan) have to sit through daily. I get why some of it is necessary but it boggles the mind, especially in the face of all the research out there, why the majority of educators and policy makers out there seem to be missing the point. It cannot be that they don't read the same papers or articles that I do. I'll probably be accused of being myopic in some way; not being able to see the big picture and all that. And because of that, I worry for JED, that they aren't getting what they need.

So, for now, I try to provide them all the outdoor time they need by juggling their needs. I let them do silly things like form rainbow loom jump ropes to jump over, hang off exercise yard equipment (though it scares the living daylights of me) and take them from walks that extend beyond 1 km in the night. That is above and beyond PE and other organised play.

Recently, I made the call for Jordan not to complete her homework because it would have taken her all the way to dinner without a break. I sent her out to the playground downstairs to muck about. And for now, I can still do it because homework is relatively non-emergent and there were no other co-curricular committments. I realised later that night, with a sinking heart, how it was a battle I was definitely going to lose. It was more a matter of when I would finally have to cave rather than whether I would cave. And that weighed very heavily on me.

Packrat and I were recently discussing a future holiday we were planning to take and I pointed out that it would be dependent on whether the twins (who would be Primary 3 or 4 by then) had holiday classes at that point. His response was " they will not go to those classes then." Brave fighting words. I don't know if we'll be able to say that at that point. We'll try as hell though and hopefully the stuff I read starts sieving through the policy makers' and teachers filter bubbles as well.


  1. *sigh* I hear you.

    I remember playing masak masak. Afternoons were spent getting dirty and mucky playing with the neighbours. No iPads, iPhones, cable or TV. Just the great outdoors and our imagination.

    No fear of homework. Or school projects. Or assessments, tests and extra classes. Just pure, unadulterated fun. That was my childhood.

    I fear for them that they miss out on the best years of their lives.

  2. Thanks for the reminder to let my kid play as much as he can now. :) He is on a 3-month extended holiday for some reason and I feel like I am failing him because he's not doing all the fun stuff in school. Now, I'm just gonna let him play all he wants.

    And yes, he is all of 2.5 years old. Ha.

  3. Regina, so did I! And I conveniently forgot homework at times too! I remember climbing through storm drains and coming out really far away from my house and trying to figure out how to get home.

    Mrs Wee!, play is always good!.