Letting Go of Excuses

flip-flops
I spend a lot of time talking to parents and educators about unplugged play, unstructured time, and slowing down today’s childhood. And I’m not gonna lie, sometimes it can be frustrating to hear the explanations and excuses about why it’s not possible and how children won’t settle for it.

Children, not settling for play time? Children, not wanting to run and jump and yell and laugh with their friends? Not wanting to make a mess or have a bit of freedom?

Sorry folks, I’m not buying it. Children are born to play. BORN. Adults’ attitudes, choices, and rules often quell it, but it doesn’t make the inherent drive to play any less. Play doesn’t have to be as structured, plugged-in, or sedentary as it has become. But for this sad and ugly reality to change, so must the attitudes and behavior of parents, caregivers, educators, etc.

A restoration of the natural balance and joy of childhood will return when the adults let it happen. When we choose to limit screen time and encourage children to explore their yards, neighborhoods, parks, and schoolyards. When we re-adopt the phrase, Go outside and PLAY!” 

If you haven’t read my recent post, Resisting the Urge, I encourage you to do so. It discusses some the things we can do (or not do) to help this process unfold. And for a little inspiration and encouragement, please watch this beautiful video below. Don’t focus on the fact that it takes places in a remote area, but rather focus on the movement, laughter, creativity and sheer joy expressed by the children at play. Who wouldn’t want their children to have similar experiences?

Come on, you can do it. Let go of excuses and resist the urge… and let more of childhood unfold — naturally.

See ya outside! ~ The Grass Stain Guru

photo by: theogeo

Resisting the Urge…

Pink Water Crocs

It’s almost here — the end of the school year. Can you believe it?!

As summer approaches, so do longer hours of unscheduled time for many children. And while the temptation of structuring every moment is ever-present in today’s society, I would like to encourage you (well me, and pediatricians, child psychologists, and many other experts) to provide plenty of time for good old-fashioned, unstructured outdoor play. Allow for plenty of daily chances for children to be in the driver’s seat, making their own rules, and creating their own stories.

Resist the urge to over-schedule. Resist the urge to hover. Embrace mess and down-time. Let children explore and find their own way out of self-proclaimed boredom.

“Play not only affords children an early source of identity, but is full of useful information about yourself and the world around you,

for once not filtered through adult minds and eyes.”  — Libby Brooks (Author)

Here’s the thing: Children have spent the last nine months very scheduled, buttoned-down, and zipped-up. They’ve been tested. They’ve sat. A LOT. And they have listened — to instructions  directions, reprimands, and the word “NO”. So this summer, practice saying “Yes”.

As in, Yes you may:

  • go outside and play
  • read comic books out in the hammock
  • walk/ride your bike to a friend’s house
  • camp out in the backyard
  • play flashlight tag after dark
  • build a fort
  • plant a garden or even just dig a hole
  • go barefoot
  • get really, really dirty
  • be a kid

Your mantra: Resist the urge.

You can do it. I know you can!

See ya outside! ~ The Grass Stain Guru

 

Fed Up With Frenzy? Get ‘em Outside to Play!

 

TGSG Note: Hi gang! This week, my friend and fellow nature geek, Suz Sachs Lipman, is stopping by to share some fun activities to help get you and your family outside and connecting with nature. Suz is celebrating the publishing of her new book, Fed Up with Frenzy: Slow Parenting in a Fast-Moving World. See ya outside! ~ The Grass Stain Guru 

If you find yourself craving a deeper connection to nature, but don’t know where to begin or what to do once we get there, you’re not alone. These simple and rewarding activities can help you and your family slow down enough to observe and experience nature’s small wonders and have fun while you’re doing so.

1.  Name Walk

As lovely as nature is, the instruction to observe it can be overwhelming, especially for kids. Just as birdwatchers focus on birds, other opportunities to focus on specific elements of nature can help children tune into their surroundings.

You’ll need:

• Paper and pencils, optional

Before beginning your walk, instruct everyone to look for things that start with the same first letter as their names.

Lead kids on a route or trail or around a park and encourage them to look in the sky, on the ground, and in trees. Be prepared to walk slowly and perhaps not cover much distance, to allow
deep observation.

Try other observation walks by having everyone look for the same type of thing, such as flowers, leaves, birds, rocks, small items, smooth items, or certain colors. See how many varieties the group can find within one category.

2.  Nature Bracelets

I’ve done this very easy activity with groups of all ages. It encourages people to look all around them.

You’ll need:

• Masking tape, 1? or wider, enough to go around each child’s wrist

Tear off a piece of masking tape, slightly longer than the child’s wrist.

Place it around the wrist with the sticky side out.

Go for a walk or hunt and look for small items in nature that can be stuck to the masking tape, such as leaves, twigs, seeds, acorns, pebbles, and pods. In general, things that have already fallen on the ground are safe to pick. If in doubt, leave something.

Fill the bracelet by sticking the items onto it and wear it proudly.

3.  Kim’s Game

This well-known game has entertained many generations and is easy to organize and play, indoors or out.

You’ll need:

• 20 small items, such as acorns, shells, twigs, rocks, pinecones, or seeds
• Pencil and paper for each person
• Towel or something to cover items

Decide whether you are playing in teams or individually.

Uncover items for two minutes.

Cover items again. Teams or players remember and name as many objects as they can.
Each player earns one point for each correct article named.

Seeking a different way to play? Try Duplication. Uncover items for two minutes. Players go out in nature to find duplicates of the items.

Have fun while you deepen your connection to nature!

Playfully yours, Suz 

 

Adapted from Fed Up with Frenzy: Slow Parenting in a Fast-Moving World, by Susan Sachs Lipman. The book contains these activities and many more. Follow Suz on Twitter!

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photo by: Genevieve Paule