Thursday, September 01, 2011

Walking to School

Jane posted a link to a brief article about being ready for first grade. Thirty years ago, the readiness skills for first grade were similar to today's readiness skills for preschool ... or at least things kids need to know prior to kindergarten. But also on the list of readiness skills from 1979 was that a kid knew how to navigate around his neighborhood (4-8 blocks away from home) on his own. As the commenter put it, that's something today that we're letting eighth-graders try.

Katie tells stories of going to the playground with the girls. She will let 2-yr-old Alia climb up the stairs to the slide. She will let Alia climb the tiny little rock wall at one playground. She lets her swing as high as those short little chains will allow. Alia is doing nothing dangerous. She's engaging in behavior less risky than her parents did, and certainly less risky than her grandparents did. And yet, other mommies are gasping, pointing out to Katie that Alia needs to be rescued, and then being incredulous that Katie is okay with [gasp] Playground Behavior at the playground.

Why do we think this over-protection is in the best interests of children?


  1. I find this article interesting both in terms of 1979 and what I allow my children to do/not do because they are homeschooled.
    My 7 year old second grader still doesn't have any permanent teeth and the first time we left him all day with grandma was recently-I honestly don't think he could have even handled that last school year. He just barely turned 6 and half at the beginning of last school year. But he was definitely ready for first grade school work last school year.
    Also, I was almost 6 and in kindergarten in 1979!

  2. Our 20 month old twin girls can and will use any and every piece of playground equipment. Of course I let them. They love and need to climb. Other mothers gap and cross themselves. I'm sure it does look funny and/or scary. The girls are small, just over 20 pounds.

    As for the boys, just transferred them from our Lutheran School to our neiborhood public school for various reasons. One of the main reasons was that they (at 7 and 9) can walk to and from school, and they offer more outdoor recess. Outdoor play is super important. Their new favorite class is gym. Since we are a clergy family, and I don't fear for my children's religious education, we are mo jan happy to have family devotions and send them off to school with several recesses and gym class.

  3. And I can spell. . .silly mobile devices! Gasp. Neighborhood!, more than!

  4. Pam, here I was thinking that "mo jan" was some slang I'd never heard. Now, misspellings on tiny keyboards, THAT I understand! :-)

  5. They prevent children from climbing, swinging and testing their mettle, and then they wonder why the kiddos don't have the sitzenpantzen to sit for classes in the classroom. BAH.