Daily Archives: September 2, 2009

Take the Pledge: Stand Up for Childhood

Kids: they dance before they learn there is anything

that isn’t music.  ~William Stafford

VBS Get Down_2252

New backpacks are ready to go — filled to the the rim with pencils, paper, and folders adorned with puppies, Hello Kitty, or the latest teen idol. It’s back to school time here in the US, and kids are resuming their breakneck schedules. Commuting, long days in the classroom, adult-led after-school activities, and an ever-increasing homework load. Many of them have lost recess, or in the process of doing so. Simply put, they must be exhausted.

I don’t know about you, but if I had a typical American kid’s schedule, I would revolt. Or act out in class or at home, be depressed or anxious…oh, wait….that is exactly what we are seeing happen in today’s society. And it’s not just the kids that are struggling, it’s the parents and educators, too.

So, I am asking all the adults in children’s worlds to take a pledge this school year. It doesn’t matter if you are a parent, educator, after-school provider, or simply a caring adult: this school year, take a stand for childhood.

As a parent: Sign your child up for fewer after-school activities. Make sure they have ample free time to play and spend time outdoors. Talk to your child’s teacher and/or the administrator about the homework policy. If you haven’t read The Case Against Homework, please do. If there is no recess in your child’s school, fight for it to be reinstated.

As an educator: Make room for play and creativity in the classroom. Work with a team to create a school garden/outdoor classroom, and make learning come alive! Appreciate different learning styles and work with students to better meet their needs. Establish a realistic homework policy that allows students and families to have time to spend together, and gives kids ample time to relax and play so they will be ready for learning the next day.

As an after-school provider: Make sure to give kids time to blow-off steam and have fun when they walk through the door, instead of launching into homework time or a structured activity. Let them have choices and direct their own play, versus always scheduling every minute. Provide ample time for outdoor play.

As a caring adult: No kids, no problem. If you are a blogger, write a post about the need for kids to play and spend time in nature. If you are an aunt/uncle or grandparent, offer to take the kids hiking, camping, or to go shoot hoops. Consider talking to the parents about the benefits of play. Keep up-to-date on education reform issues. Concerned citizen? Assess the parks and green spaces in your neighborhood. Are there ample places to play in your community? If not, speak out!

There is something we can each do this school year to make a better version of childhood a reality. I love the quote at the top of this post. Let’s keep the kids dancing as long as we can. They have a whole lifetime to be grown-ups. Let’s not require it of them too soon.

Here are a few additional resources you might find helpful when speaking or writing about the need for play and time outdoors:

Please join me. Stand up!

See ya outside! ~ The Grass Stain Guru

Creative Commons License photo credit: hoyasmeg

Back to School Call With the White House

TGSG Note: Below you will find an announcement from Kareem Dale, Special Assistant to the President for Disability Issues, about a Back-to-School conference call with the White House. It’s a unique opportunity for groups that are interested in education reform and ensuring that children are not lost in our education system. See ya outside! ~ The Grass Stain Guru

Thursday, September 3rd the White House will be hosting a conference call with all interested groups to discuss the President’s education plan and more specifically Back to School. You may forward this call information. The President will be delivering a Back to School speech on September the 8th that will be available to watch live across the country.

When: Thursday, September 3rd
Start Time: 4:00 PM EST
Participant Number: (800) 230-1074
Title to be connected to call: Back to School

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