Thursday, January 5, 2012

Kids Need to be Kids

An interesting article caught my eye on preschools and children. This article from WebMD states that kids in a preschool setting or childcare spend 70-80% of their time in sedentary activities. What I found interesting is that the main reason for this is the push of academics on children too young.
Children need time to play period. They need time outside, to run, jump, climb trees. This is all very important for their physical development. But we have this push in America for academics earlier and earlier and it is coming at a cost.
Parents putting their children in school at early ages so they can read earlier, write at a young age. All of this, studies shows, backfires and these children who learn this early often do not do better then other children who were let to be children.
These parents don't want their children just playing while they are paying for them to be in school.
And on the flip side some schools are scared to let children play outdoors for fear of injuries in our sue happy culture.
What is sad is this push does not just come from parents. Many kindergartens expect a lot from young children and expect them to know a lot when they come in to kindergarten. They also try to teach them so much in the short period they are there. Consequently they are shortening play time and outdoor time. This is not by the choice of the teacher, but by laws and mandates from states and government agencies.
Parents feel conflicted, how much to push before kindergarten? Ideally not much, but its harder and harder to do this.
I just think of an average day for a young child in an academic preschool.
Wake up 7:30 eat breakfast
8 get dressed and ready for school
Out the door by 8:45
9am school
School till lunch time.
Lunch at home then nap till 3 ish.
This leaves several hours at home for the child to get outdoors and just play but many parents schedule playdates and other activities during this time. They also might allow the 2 hours of tv the AAP says is okay for children.
This leaves dinner, bath and bed.
Where is the time for free play? When can kids run and climb, balance and logs? These are important to their physical development.
When can they just explore their world, discover on their own? Find acorns, dig in the dirt?
When can they play, pretend dance and sing on their own?
I feel bad for many children in this generation. Being pushed to their little limits but not allowed to live limitless.

Spend time outside with your children, everyday unless weather is severe.
Give your children plenty of free time, indoors as well.
Turn off the tv, video games and computer. Young children do not need these at all. Limit them as much as you can.
Encourage play, do something outdoors, garden, shovel snow, go for a walk, a hike, swim, indoors, cook,bake, sweep, knit, craft. All of these things your child will love to imitate and play out other times.
Encourage play, not academics in this young age.
As I stated in a previous post I plan to home preschool school. But this will be less academic and more play based. I want my children to enjoy childhood, not feel pushed at a early age, and look back on this period and smile about the smile times we spent together, not the simple times we spent in a car riding from activity to activity.

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