Where are the Kids?! Nov 24, 2013

As houses bloom around Oakville it means there are more kids to be seen roaming around and playing in parks, but when I go outside, I see not one. Kids should be everywhere enjoying the fresh air. The truth is that kids, even at the youngest age, are signed up to do multiple activities indoors.

From scheduled dance classes to swimming lessons; sports and hobbies are an amazing way for kids to spend time but when they are forced onto them as a qualification or an asset, the sheer love and passion for a skill drains away just like that years of dancing, swimming or scoring goals in football are lost and stowed away as an “extra-curricular”. Kids have such busy schedules that they don't even get to go outside to JUST PLAY anymore. The weekly street hockey games with friends for fun are replaced with weekly ice hockey games guided by coaches with teammates competing for a spot on teams of higher regard. Whatever looks good on a university application or leads to a lucrative career.

Play is a powerful word. Kids need the time to play and be creative when they are young because as they grow up, competition, responsibilities and expectations is what the society and community throws at them. Schedules keep getting busier, deadlines for projects, using most of your time after school for homework; we all know very well how this list goes on

Peter Gray is an evolutionary psychologist who believes children's lives have become disastrously regimented. Mr. Gray said, "In play, children make their own decisions and solve their own problems. In adult-directed settings, children are weak and vulnerable. In play they are strong and powerful. The play world is the child's practice world for being an adult." Those kids playing till their shins are grimy and throats were parched weren’t wasting time after all. Play can teach valuable life lessons.

The play has been squeezed out of them by our forever competitive society. The ever-present anxiety of the future has “well-organized” our children’s present. Are we as a society training our future generations to manage their time and work hard, but in the end- jump through hoops?

Kids deserve to be able to play freely, to be able to learn independence in the easiest way possible, by going out to the park, pretending that the ground is lava and the only way to safety is to get on to the jungle gym.

By Inaara Karsan

Link to Dr. Peter Gray’s Interview by The Globe and the Mail: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-debate/why-the-kids-dont-play-any-more/article15446614/

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