Sunday, March 20, 2011

Lost Adventures of Childhood

I very rarely watch television so it was totally by chance that I learned of the CTV Documentary: Lost Adventures of Childhood. I took an hour out of my Sunday afternoon to watch it too! The show was all about the loss of free play for children and what it actually does to them socially, emotionally and developmentally. All negative I assure you.

Psychologists, teachers, doctors, scientists all agree that today's over-scheduled, over-regulated, over-stimulated children do not do as well as adults as those of us just one generation removed who were allowed to play outside without being watched every minute by our mothers.

I stand convicted on some counts. When my older girls were little, even Athena's age, they played outside all of the time, away from me, roaming the neighborhood, playing at 'the bumpy park' or 'the little park'. And outside of my view and earshot. Can you imagine? And now, Athena plays outside all the time, 'tis true, but I am constantly looking out the window, calling her, checking on her, and this is IN MY OWN YARD!
I messed up here somewhere.

We are good on not over-scheduling. I remember a lot of my childhood driving from skating lessons, to dance lessons, to Brownies, baton twirling. Volleyball practice, basketball games etc... If I wasn't on the way to MY lessons, we had to tag along in the car for my 4 sisters lessons or my brothers stuff. Not all of the time but a good chunk of time. (In defense of my parents, we likely asked to be in all of these extras.)

When I became a parent I knew that I would NOT put my kids in a bunch of stuff and I didn't. So I score okay on that front. But where did this excess worry come from now? According to statistics, the world is actually SAFER for children now than it has been in generations.

I let Athena go to her friends backyard last week. I let her go for a half hour. I wondered if she'd slip on her friends backyard rink. I wondered if she'd watch for cars crossing the street. I mostly paced by the front windows for the full half hour. Ridiculous. She was home exactly on time and the next day, out of the blue, she told me how happy she was that I had let her go on her own. Goodness me, she is 7 years old for Pete's sake and we live in a town where no one locks their doors, most people know each other and they leave their keys in the ignition of their cars. What is wrong with me? Maybe because she is an only child, I don't know.

But I hereby resolve...
to let the child play in the neighborhood... out of the yard
 to let her and Eden or Abby go to the park by themselves (yes, Jen and Jill)
to let her develop necessary skills by problem solving and testing herself
 to let her grow up just a little
 to let her explore her world like I was able to and those who came before me were

It might be hard but it is a lesson I must learn sooner than later.

The documentary should be available to view online soon. I suggest you check it out.


*And on this same topic some suggested reading:

Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature Deficit Disorder by Richard Louv

Free Range Kids by Lenore Skenazy

Under Pressure by Carl Honore


Dawn said...

That sounds like a documentary that I would want to watch. I've read all three of the books that you suggested...and enjoyed them.
I kept feeling guilty that I didn't have my son in any after school activities for awhile. It was only because I kept comparing our family to other families around us though. He's happy to come home and play with the neighborhood kids- and it's good for him. Comparison is a not a good path to go down. ;)
The free range stuff, I've got conflicted feelings on. We're trying to decide when it's appropriate/safe (if ever) to send our 12 yo daughter alone on the city bus to get to ballet class. I really don't know.

Tara said...

This documentary looks like something I would enjoy watching.

I remember walking home from school by myself - 2 miles and playing in the woods behind our house, well out of eye and earshot of my mom. Owen has plenty of space to roam here but I still worry a little. I just send him out with the dog for company/protection.....:)