The good ol’ days meant running the neighborhood for hours playing tag, jumping rope, riding bikes, and conquering the playground. Today playgrounds are a thing of the past in many communities. Hanging out with friends afterschool is now organized at coffee shops and indoor malls. Outside play isn’t what it used to be.
Recently we were at a school organized health and fitness night. The local university sports teams were on hand to show kids what it was to have fun the old-fashioned way. There were groups playing basketball, jumping rope, playing catch with a football, and more. Our four-year-old daughter was drawn to the jump rope station. She was a natural. We were so impressed at how easily she maneuvered over the swinging rope that we clapped and hugged and told her how proud we were of her. Thinking back, it seemed so silly how excited we behaved over something so simple. She should know how to jump rope; she’s a child, and isn’t that what children should do?
Our son attempted basketball, but he really had no idea what to do. He’d never been shown how to shoot a basket. We don’t have basketball courts in our neighborhood or anywhere near us for that matter. Aren’t sports supposed to be a natural choice for kids when playing outside as a group?
It dawned on me that we are responsible for teaching kids to play. We reach for board games, head to bounce houses, and fire up the Wii, but what we don’t do anymore is teach kids the fundamentals of true imaginative and exhausting play. The days of stickball and tag have been replaced with handheld games and packed schedules. We have to get our kids back outside, playing with each other.
Here is a list of games I’m determined to teach my kids over the next couple of months. There is no way I’m going to listen to “I’m Bored” one more time this summer after we get through this list.
- Miss Mary Mack
- Simon Says
- Red Light Green Light
- FourSquare (not the check-in app)
- Chinese Jump-Rope
- Freeze Tag and Freeze Dance