|back yard shenanigans|
It usually happens just before school ends, the mad rush to sign your kids up for camps and I'll admit once I hear other parents doing it, I jump in and read through my list of options and trot on down the the Neighborhood Guild and sign them up! I like them to learn skills and activities that I hope that they will use in the future... and I usually feel guilty when I can't sign them up for more. But this article in Treehugger made me feel better, and I think there are a lot of good points to be made. I have seen my kids spend the entire day on the tire swing in the back yard and not come in until dark - I LOVE to see that and it does make me remember that's what summer is all about! It's not a schedule full of a litany of camps it's just that time to wander around in the 'vacant lot' or back yard and do STUFF.
Here is a link to the article.
Each summer is different as the kids have been growing and changing. My twelve year old son can read for hours, but my 9 year old daughter... it's like pulling teeth. I have some tricks in my back pocket just in case, I like to set up a tent in the back yard which turns into hours and days of fun. A tire swing went sitting unused until this year and now it's a constant thrill for my daughter. What I am trying to say is don't give up and sometimes it works best if you just leave it there for them to discover. I bought a sprinkler and they figured out where, how and the game of setting it up just right.
This article just shows the merits of unscheduled play and fun, so don't feel bad if you are not sending your kids to camp like everyone else... it's okay! I especially liked what one New Zealand Principal did:
"One principal in New Zealand, however, has gone against the grain, tossing out all playground rules at Swanson School in Auckland. Kids can play with the dismantled parts of the play equipment, build their own structures, flip tires, and climb trees. The results have been wonderfully positive:
“Fewer children were getting hurt on the playground. Students focused better in class. There was also less bullying, less tattling. Incidents of vandalism had dropped off.”Now that's what I call some a real down-home, grass-roots involved principal!
link to treehugger article.