Today’s world is much different than what it was when my parents were kids. Today, parents worry more about keeping their kids safe, and most people do that by keeping their kids in sight and/or indoors at all times. Parents often believe that this is the safest way to keep something bad from happening to their children. Although I don’t disagree with this, I don’t think it’s necessarily the best way to protect your children. Most people don’t realize that keeping their kids indoors and not letting them explore and play is actually hurting their kids more than it is helping them. Kids learn by playing and interacting with other kids, so if you take that away from them they won’t be learning the essential skills that are needed in every day life. This week, in my English class, we watched a Ted Talk video about the decline of play. Throughout this video, there are facts and specific examples about how playing has changed and affected the lives of kids in a negative way throughout the years. Over the past 50-60 years, there has been a gradual increase of about 5-8 times as many children suffering from major depression or anxiety, which has been directly linked to the decline of play.
My teacher assigned us “homework” to go out and play. This was the first time that I was ever assigned to play as homework, and at first I thought that it sounded a little bit silly since I’m a teenager who hasn’t “played” since elementary school, but I did the assignment anyways. I wasn’t sure what I was going to play with for this assignment, but then I realized that I have a huge trampoline in my backyard that looks brand new since no one ever uses it anymore… Well, I used to have so much fun jumping around on it, so why did I stop? I thought about it and realized that as I got older I just didn’t have any time to have fun. I became so busy with school and getting good grades (since that seems to be the only important thing in a teen’s life), that somewhere along the line I forgot to be a kid and just enjoy life. The world puts a lot of pressure on teens these days because we are the new generation, but no one ever really stops to think about what is best for us. My parents, who are teachers, even thought that the amount of homework that I have been getting since middle school (about 6+ hours a night) is ridiculous since I’m still just a kid. So, I got my brother to come outside with me and jump on our trampoline. I had forgotten how much fun it was to just jump around. After I got off of the trampoline I felt much happier. I went into the trampoline thinking about all the homework I had that day, but when I was jumping around I completely forgot about everything going on in the world around me… All that mattered at the time was my brother and I just being kids.
Now my experience was most likely different from others who also had to do this assignment, but I think that we all probably felt the same sense of relaxation and relief. It felt like there wasn’t anything that I had to worry about and that the small things, like getting an A instead of a B, doesn’t really matter as much as your own happiness. I believe that more teachers should take into consideration that their students are still growing up and should be able to enjoy these years of being a kid. When I’m older I want to be an elementary school teacher. After doing this assignment and learning about how important it is for kids to go outside and explore, I’m going to make sure that I have an hour of play time a day for my students. I hope that parents and teachers quickly realize that school isn’t everything.