Plenty of time for play
Collagemama wrote today about the summers of her childhood in which she had plenty of unstructured time to contemplate the marvels of nature. She wonders how much time today's children have for such things.
I remember the long summer vacations we had when I was little. We had three full months of freedom from school. Most days, my mother had some chores for me, but after the dishes were done, I had long afternoons to do whatever interested me. My schedule was open to...
- Play house with my sister
- Look for wild mushrooms after a rain
- Feed bread crumbs to the ants
- Help the mama cat take care of her kittens
- Read a book from cover to cover
- Collect snails from the windmill tank in a jar
- Fish with a cane pole from the Skull Creek bridge
- Make a comfy nest in the haymow
And if I got tired of doing those things, I could...
- Wade in the windmill pond
- Ride the ornery little pony
- Search for 4-leaf clovers
- Find Indian turnips in the pasture
- Visit the hayfield to watch the haystacks being made
- Count the ladybugs on the lawn
- Stir up some mud pies and weed-seed coffee
- Eat green beans right off the vine in the garden
Educators are worried nowadays that the kids will forget too much during a long summer vacation. Here in our county, there's been talk of year-round school with a couple weeks off at the end of each quarter. After public protest, that idea was officially dropped, but for about five years now, school has started early in August. It's not year-round school, but summer vacation is greatly shortened.
In addition, many children spend their days at daycare centers or summer camps. They may also have a busy schedule of lessons, practices, and competitions or games. When they do get home, many electronic amusements are available. Certainly, all of this reduces the time that children spend creating their own simple ways to have fun.