Wednesday @ WeHaKee: Kids Need To Be Kids!
Childhood should be filled with
ample opportunties for fun and joy!
This is not a rant about the evils of sports and competition – competition can be extremly healthy in many settings and when the intentions are solely for the benefit of the children and youth involved. A recent artilce published in the El Paso Times highlights how this is becoming out of hand – Let Kids Be Kids For As Long As Possible. Reporter Victor Martinez, shares his reaction to an encounter of a youth sports registration promotion “requesting “experienced” five-year-old players for a competitive T-ball team.” Yes, he emphasizes, “experienced” five-year-old players.”
Five year olds are in kindergarten, but kindergarten has long since changed from its ‘introduction to school’ roots that many of us older folks remember from our kindergarten days. With the advent of the ‘No Child Left Behind’ testing culture and recently supported by the Common Core standards, the pre 1st grade experience has become more academically focused. Kindergarten students are expected to arrive at school with expanded vocabularies and a set of working math skills. Play stations are being replaced with tablets and computer screens. Can tracking be close behind?
And hand in hand with this retreat from fun and joy is the push to ‘help’ these young students discover their hidden athletic gifts and talents. No longer do kids have the freedom to create their own games in their own settings. Instead, structured leagues have overtaken any hint of free play. Is it any wonder that anxiety and depression is skyrocketing amoung our kids at increasingly younger ages?
Back in our day (yup, I AM that old!), we honed our social skills, our gross and fine motor skills, our organizational skills and our abilities to embrace compromise through our free play activities. And we had great fun doing so all the while having absolutely no clue how it was positvely impacting our development! Structured competitive sports were off on the horizon of 6th and 7th grade.
What is interesting is that many of today’s sports stars seldom tell stories of excelling at sports as 5 or 6 year olds. In fact, many didn’t get into the sport they are now wildly successful in until high school or college. And many of us remember that NBA superstar, Michael Jordan was initially cut from his high school basketball team. Success at exceptionally young ages often does not translate well to success as an adult.
They will learn when they are ready!
When asking a friend of mine who chose to homeschool his children, how he determined what they should learn at a given time, he stated that they will learn when they are ready. His children have both graduated with honors from college and are leading successful and more importantly fulfilling lives! And did I mention that this friend was himself a camp director? Could there be a correlation? Most likely!
Camps like WeHaKee Camp for Girls, provide ample time for kids to ‘learn when they are ready’, it provides countless opportunities for free play and it brings back the fun and joy that kids these days need so much more! Additionally, the camp community offers an environment for safe and healthy risk taking helping them differentiate (well beyond camp) between positive risks and those that may be detrimental. As directors of WeHaKee, we frequently see our campers learning when they are ready on a daily basis.
Thanks for readying everyone and have a wonderful day!