Growing up my parents could barely keep me inside. As a toddler I would often sneak out of the house (even shoving the chair under the door knob so they couldn’t follow me) and wander around the lake or visit neighbours. A little older, I would sneak into my neighbours back yard, the nearby golf course, or the nearby park, to build forts in the woods or rafts for the lakes. I would go on long bike rides, strapping a radio to my bicycle and pretend I was one of the girls from the movie Now and Then. I would pretend to be Pocahontas and destroy my friend’s mother’s plant so we could use the leaves to weave baskets (or attempt to that is).
As a kid, I had the freedom to play outside, and these unstructured playtimes are some of my fondest and most vivid childhood memories. But with the advances of technology, both kids and adults are losing touch with what’s outside. They’re forgetting how to play, leaving themselves only with memories of minecraft or some other children’s computer game with varying levels of violence.
Far too often when I talk to kids about what they did on the weekend, their answer is video or computer games. So rarely do I get the answer “exploring outside with my friends”.
But don’t you remember those days when you were free to roam, even just in your backyard, and play without structure, without meaning, without trying to beat a certain score or level?
It’s so vital for children to get outside and play, yet they often stay inside because parents are working, tired from working, or the child themselves don’t think to go outside because they have so much (aka games) to do inside.
And as adults we are not helping. How often has it been a gorgeous day outside and yet you stayed in to finish that last thing on your computer? Hey, I’m guilty of it too, and it’s one of my least favourite qualities. But for the sake of our future children, I am working on learning how to balance working inside with playing outside, so I can encourage them to explore the woods, build forts, and rip up leaves to weave all the baskets their little fingers can handle. We need to encourage our children to go outside and play, because so many of them are forgetting how, and that is not a childhood worth remembering.