Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Extending Childhood and Revisiting Childhood Pleasures

Make sure to check out the blog Moore Minutes' post on family dinner show and tells here! What a fantastic way to re-establish family connections and help extend childhood.

soccer team

I find that one of the biggest challenges of rearing an elementary- or middle-school-age child in today's world is figuring out how to slow down the breakneck speed of growing up. Everything is amped up in school. Children are immediately enrolled in activities and have a heavy homework load, oftentimes within the first week of school. I'm constantly looking for ways to slow things down and allow my daughter to be a "little girl," unburdened by stress, for as long as possible.

I remember carefree afternoons spent in unstructured play as one of the best parts of my childhood because the magic of that time in one's life is based on an ability to play creatively. Spring offers us a variety of ways to change our old habits. Lightening our cuisine and eating more vegetables and less meat can be very satisfying - as well as an opportunity to lose any extra weight we may have put on during the winter months!

cherry blossoms

As the weather changes, it also means we're able to spend much more time outside - walking, exercising, and simply playing. Taking a short half-hour walk around your neighborhood is a great way to take note of nature's beauty. Another way to take advantage of the weather with your family is to play the outdoor games from your childhood - structured ones like softball or capture the flag, or more casual activities like kick the can or throwing a Frisbee. Doing something fun outdoors is quality time that also helps you stay in shape.

As the days lengthen, it's fun to incorporate  games into an early evening on a weekday or a quiet Sunday afternoon. It's a lovely way to feel young again and pass on the notion of free play to our children.

During the summer months, I purposely avoid scheduling "play dates" in advance, and instead let them happen naturally. If my daughter wants company, we simply pick up the phone and see who's around. Luckily, one of her closest friends lives across the street. This is one way I try to revive the bygone tradition of spontaneous play and unstructured free time.


To encourage play that doesn't involve computers or electronic devices, I keep a large closet stocked with old clothes and costumes from my older daughter's theater days for dress-up. I also have an open kitchen, and I invite the children to cook when they feel like it. A real childhood, rather than a never-ending preparation for adulthood, is the greatest gift we can give our children. Childhood is a time in life to protect and nurture. Encourage kids to slow down. They have their whole lives to be adults. For the time being, let your children be children.

With love,

No comments:

Post a Comment