Letting Kids be Kids

I’ve always hated going back to school because adjusting to the busy schedule kills me (well that, plus all the other obvious reasons). School is hard enough by itself, then we’ve got homework, sports, life, etc. But happily, just in time for September, I’ve seen a bunch of articles about how we need to let kids be kids and stop cramming activities and academics down their throats.

Yes! I’ve always been a big believer in this theory but I’m glad when other people back me up. The Vancouver Sun blogger Chad Skelton summed it up best when he said “we should focus less on doing things we hate but think will help our kids (piano lessons, ballet) and more on being kind to our kids and doing fun things with them.”

I LOVE that! Play with your kids. Hang out. Ride bikes and have sword fights. My ideal day. All our kids want is a piece of us. Why not give them that instead of fighting with them while we’re running out the door because we’re late for interpretive drumming class?

Another recent article in Newsweek said that people live longer if they don’t begin formal schooling until after the age of six. Then Dave went to a conference and heard about a study that said children who received formal curriculum before the age of three were 70% more likely to end up convicted of a crime! (Sweet.)

This is probably an unintended consequence of the Baby Einstein culture – we should cram as much knowledge as possible into our kids’ brains as soon as they’re conceived, because their brain is a sponge and we can fill it with anything we want!! They will be geniuses!

What a sadly twisted interpretation of this science (is this what happens when ordinary citizens get their hands on a little power? Mwah ha ha ha…). It’s true that our babies’ brains are programmed to grow and accept information at an astounding rate.

But then they’re also designed to regress, rest, grow and prune. This happens for a reason. Our “enlightened” parenting styles cannot outwit millions of years of evolution.

I mentioned the idea to a friend of mine whose daughter is very smart. She said that one of her daughter’s teachers was really pushing her to enrich her child’s education by finding more extracurricular activites, and even recommended putting her in a private school. My friend said, “She doesn’t understand that being a captain of industry is not the life I want for her.”

I love that too. I have good friends.

This summer my kids did nothing. They laid around, watched tv, hunted for ghosts in the basement, rode their bikes, and hung around the yard. And I let them. When I think back on my childhood summers, my favorite memory is laying in the grass looking up at the clouds. That’s it. The smell of the grass and the feel of warm sun on my face is the most potent memory I have of those days. It didn’t improve my intellect, but it made me happy. That is the goal we should have for our kids.

2 thoughts on “Letting Kids be Kids

  1. I totally agree with you. I have a friend who lives in a wealthy suburb of Boston and her rising 2nd graders got a summer reading list from their school. Second graders! One of the things I am most proud of as a mother is that I play with my kids A Lot. And 95% of the time, I actually enjoy it.

    • Ha ha, I love that – it’s true I’ve been dragged into the occasional game when I’d much rather be relaxing… but we’ve gotta soak the moments up while we can right? My friend in NJ is dealing with the same thing, lots of after-school activities expected. I’m sure the metro areas are a bit more high-stress for this. Thanks for always reading Stephanie!

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