Have you noticed there’s a better chance of seeing a tumbleweed than a kid in playgrounds today? There’s a reason for that.
Playgrounds today are made for lawyers, not for children.
Which means, of course, that the kids aren’t interested.
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Any kid old enough not to be outside without supervision has already outgrown what they can offer. Why? Because they’re too safe.
The studies have finally caught up to what kids have known forever.
‘Play structures’ suck. It’s time for a fresh approach.
Imagine a playground littered with loose bricks, lumber, hammers, nails and saws and ringed by jagged boulders and thorny bushes. While this might seem like a lawsuit waiting to happen, educators in countries like the United Kingdom are intentionally adding such elements of risk to their playgrounds to help make children more resilient.
“I think risk is actually an incredibly important part of development and it’s something that we’ve really sanitized out of our playgrounds,” Meghan Talarowski, the director and founder of Philadelphia, PA-based Studio Ludo, told CTV News Channel.
In the animal kingdom, play is a process in which the young begin to master the skills required of the mature. People are no different.
Our age of lawyers, bubble-wrap and helicopter parents is only making things worse.
“If you make a playground so safe that it’s boring, you’re going to lose kids,” Talarowski said.
That’s why, Talarowski says, you seldom see kids over the age of six or seven in playgrounds.
“Really, they’re finding things that are more fun like screen time,” she said. “So what we advocate for is environments that have incremental risks that are a lot more fun and exciting for kids in that eight-to-10-and-beyond age range.”
Some of us are old enough to remember walking on the train tracks. Riding bikes or toboggans down 45 degree inclines, often through trees. Climbing trees. Using pocket knives. Taking dares. Jumping fences, climbing onto roofs and exploring abandoned or burned-out homes.
These things toughened us up, taught us not to complain, and prepared us for the rigors of life.
It’s pretty silly for us to complain about childhood obesity at the same time that we’re telling them not to climb trees or ride their bikes anymore.
Isn’t that what the let kids be kids crowd have been saying all along?
Let little Jimmy have that Red Ryder bb gun, and stop worrying if he’ll ‘put an eye out’.
Because you and I both know… he won’t.
by Doug Giles
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