I know that I am older now. The music I enjoyed is quickly (sadly) becoming elevator music. This is a detail that I despise. But none-the-less it is happening. So I know that I am slowly entering that decent into the mindset of "My Generation..." However, here is my tale from this weekend.
I enjoy sitting out in the backyard of our apartment, relaxing and reading. It is something that last year between time management, bad weather, illness (I got hit with a bunch of summer colds), lethargy, and bugs I just did not get to do too enough of during my months "off". I had all of these plans of creating a backyard oasis. None of the details were implemented. So this year, I decided to start sooner (we teach until June 27 so Summer break is still quite a ways off for me). I purchased a large planter container at my local dollar store. I have these ideas to build a fairy garden in the container for some interest in the backyard. I tried our dollar store, Target, Kmart, CVS, Riteaid, and more. Somehow there is a considerable lack of dollhouse furniture. What? Isn't this a standard for young children? Apparently not anymore. As I walked the aisles of Target today, this blog post circulated and formulated in my head.
I know so many parents these days feel the need to raise their own little genius. But this desire to be Einstein comes at what cost? And even Einstein had his moments of play. Wasn't he quoted as having said, "Play is the highest form of research." Dollhouses taught mechanics - this opens this way, this pulls there. Dollhouses taught math and spacial relationships - will my furniture fit? If I create a rug how long and wide should it be? If I put the couch here where will the table fit. Dollhouses taught color and aesthetics - Will these colors clash? Will that be seen? Oh this might match!
Instead, what is readily available? Toy versions of electronics (Believe me I am pro these devices but as in all things - with moderation). Legos now have blinking lights. Regular and pastel Legos aren't engaging enough anymore? They have to light up?!
Dolls dressed more like tarts and ladies of the night then Strawberry Shortcake and Lemon Meringue Pie (for those that don't know these were dolls when I was young). Which don't even get me started on that franchise. Strawberry Shortcake was a doll that I could relate to with her plump cheeks and little dresses. Now she's in pants and with a much thinner physique. Urgh! (But that is another post for another day!)
Back to my original theme. Must we overstimulate children? Rows of flashcards. Rows of flashing toys. Rows of dolls with too much makeup. Rows of vampire dolls. Can we please return to the days where children (boys or girls) were allowed to use their imagination to explore and play? My friend recently relayed a tale about her children and a playdate. She sent them out to play in the backyard. They didn't know what to do with themselves. They looked at her like they were being punished. They were being kept from their computers, video games, e-book readers, etc. They waited by the backdoor until they were permitted to return to the land of plugged in devices. Go play!!!!
My suggestion? Please invest in jump ropes, jax, balls, chalk and teach your children to think outside the box. This is just as valuable a skill as filling in the right bubble to answer the Common Core questions. But when students are at home please oh please just let them be kids. And I will try to find ways to help students play while covering the concepts required by the Common Core to share with my teachers.