The State of Play

Where does Let Kids Be Kids go from here?

Well I am hoping to expand the campaign further and make a push to really stop Australia from becoming a nanny state and following the examples of the United Kingdom and the US. Already we have seen this happening in the banning of handstands and ball games from different Australian schools. We have looked at the consequences of kids simply being kids and sometimes (as in the US ten years ago and to this day) this can mean suspension for children who are just playing. This cannot be what Australia becomes. We have to ensure we are raising children as healthy individuals with full physical and social development and the only way you can have a healthy combination of the two is to promote play and exercise from an early age.

So Let Kids Be Kids will be growing in the next few months. It will expand as a campaign and develop to include influencers and policy makers in the discussion. Also, I want to hear your thoughts! Where do you see Australia heading? What kind of change do you want to make to the way Australian kids play and grow? Speak up and let me hear what you think about this important issue. It may be your voice that is heard the clearest!

Until then, remember it’s ok to play!

Blog Discovery!

Just came across a sister cause to Let Kids Be Kids.

Let the Children Play is a great campaign also attempting to expose injustice in the way of banning sports and activities for kids. See below for one of their stories on the banning of hand-stands at a Sydney school.

“Are we redundant now?” I hear you ask. Absolutely not. In fact it’s the opposite. This blog strengthens our numbers in the fight against the nanny state. Go check them out and have a read through their articles. You’ll find we’re very much on the same page with this issue.

http://progressiveearlychildhoodeducation.blogspot.com.au/

Great article on the many needs that playing satisfies in children!

kata fauziqbal

Sometimes, we feel so disturbed with our kid’s scream when they play near us. Don’t be angry or ask them to be quiet and sit beside us for hours. Naturally, they have different needs and we can not force them to follow our behavior. People said “Children are about Playing”. It is totally true, they have basic need to play. Not just as seen, this activity is not just waste the time or doing useless things, they also learn and study everything from their environment.

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Great idea to get kids active in a multi dimensional way! A Backyard Olympics! Try it for Rio in 2016, or even for the Glasgow Commonwealth Games in 2014. Let the kids watch the Games on telly, then send them outside to emulate their heroes!

From Mouths of Babes

Well the Olympics are here – what better opportunity to get your kids interested in sport.

The great thing about the Olympics is that it only comes around every four years so the kids never get sick of it! 

Even if your child is ten or twelve they’ve probably only seen two other Olympics.  And if you have little kids like me, then it’s all totally brand new.

So why not go the whole hog, get into the spirit and have your own little backyard Olympics at home?  Or give your kids a chance to try a sport they’ve never attempted before.  Take the kids iceskating.  Set up an obstacle course in the backyard.  Do some rhythm gymnastics on the trampoline.  The Olympics is a great opportunity to get active.

The irony is that it’s all too easy to spend the entire ten days in front of the television, rather…

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Oh dear…What will they think of next?

A school in the UK has banned parents from attending school sporting events without a Criminal Records Bureau check.

I’m sorry, say that again?

If this is where society is heading, then stop the world, I want to get off. The Swindon school says “with regret” that they can no longer accommodate parents at junior sporting fixtures for fear of pedophiles springing up and blending in. How utterly ridiculous. Like any other rational human being, I am fearful of pedophiles gaining access to schools and other children-focused institutions, but there are clear safeguards in place. I never did and I never will let this fear grip me on a daily basis and banning all parents from spectating school sport is one step closer to complete madness. This is the nanny-state personified.

School sport brings a certain level of pride that club sport cannot replicate. All parents love seeing their child succeed in all areas of school life and sport is just another one of these extra-curricular activities.

Did your parent/s watch your school sport? A UK school has banned parents from attending school sports events for fear of encouraging pedophiles

My own personal experience adds to my incredulity about this decision to ban parents. I played sport all the way through school and though the carnivals were never really my thing, I did play cricket, rugby and soccer at school level. Nothing made me happier than when Dad was there watching me and in fact one of my favourite school memories was a rugby game with my Dad watching from the sidelines, along with about ten other parents. It’s difficult for parents to get along to school sport with work commitments so if they are able to support their children, how can one possibly consider taking that away from them. It is ridiculous to demand a criminal record check upon arrival.

Once again, like all knee-jerk reactions, this begs for common sense. How many pedophiles have been arrested at high school rugby games? If there’s a stranger present at a game and nobody there can identify him/her, then ask for identification. If this is unsatisfactory, kindly ask said pedophile to leave and take it further if need be. But banning parents from watching their kids run the 200m or swim the medley relay is absolutely ludicrous. If this ever happens in Australia, all measures will have to be taken to have it reversed.

 

Read the article from the Telegraph here

Halloween: ancient annual ritual of fun or festival of public nuisance?

“Trick or treat! Trick or treat! Give us something good to eat!”

Only once as a kid did I ever knock on neighbourhood doors with this catchy little slogan up my sleeve. I was about nine years old and I remember being shocked by the rudeness of my neighbours in turning us away. Not only did they not give us lollies, we were yelled at once, told to go away twice and several said they didn’t believe in it.

“Belief” in Halloween is a big issue in Australia. It is amazing that it isn’t more widely followed as a custom here because it began – not in America – but in Celtic regions of Scotland and Wales as a festival preceding All Saints Day on November 1. It is essentially therefore a Christian ritual thought some scholars link it to Paganism.

The fact of it is, America has taken over Halloween and turned it into a consumerist celebration which has lost nearly every ounce of symbolism it had. Nowadays it is simply a chance for young kids to dress up in costumes and get free ‘candy’. But I ask you, what’s wrong with that?

One night a year is designated for these kids to go around the neighbourhood in sometimes elaborate, scary costumes and be given free lollies. Personally, other than the one time I tried it, I was never into the Halloween thing. But come October 31, I will be stocking up on bags of chocolate, lollies and all things sweet because I live in an area full of primary school kids. It gives the parents great joy to see their kids dressing up and I’m always amazed at the effort that goes into the costumes. Kids that young won’t get the opportunity to go to fancy dress parties until a little later on in their lives, so why not enjoy this celebration while they can? We are blessed with (mostly) balmy temperatures at this time of year as well so it makes for a nice evening for the kids.

One issue many people take in opposition to Halloween is the safety issue. Of course in this day and age it is not conceivable that a child under the age of ten should be walking around the street at night without supervision and I can assure you, in my neighbourhood this doesn’t happen. In the United States it rarely happens either. Times have changed and it is now understood if there is not a parent or parents keeping close supervision on the kids, ‘trick or treating’ is not on. I’d be very worried if young kids turned up at my door without a parent nearby. Safety is no more a concern than not getting a full bag of lollies at the end of the night.

This Halloween, whether you subscribe to it or not, make sure you have a bag of chocolates or lollies handy. The happiness and excitement it brings to kids is hard to beat and if you don’t give all the sweets away, there’s a stash for yourself. Everybody wins.

The Other Side of the Promotional Coin

While Let Kids Be Kids is mostly about curbing the restrictions placed on children’s games and activities in institutions like schools, there can also be another way of achieving my fairly specific goal. Promotion of other activities outside of preschool, day care or school can help assure the policy-makers that activity of a physical nature is good for kids.

I’ve come across a couple of good causes that promote physical activity generally. While Let Kids Be Kids certainly aims to do this on a broader level, I am more intent on fighting the bans placed on these activities. Nonetheless, Sport For Thought and Active Sydney are two quite localised programs looking to encourage sport and activity amongst young children to prepare them for a healthy lifestyle later on.

AusKick is one of the programs touted by Sport For Thought. This is a development program run by the AFL for children under the age of ten to get them ready for junior Aussie Rules. It is a great initiative and personally, I have family members that have gone through this program and come out as young kids with a passion for Aussie Rules and more importantly a passion for exercise and physical activity.

Similarly, Cricket Australia has run a development program for kids aged four to ten since 1997. Now named in2CRICKET, I was one of the first crop to complete this ‘season’ run over a couple of months and at the end I even played on the Sydney Cricket Ground which is any young cricket lover’s dream.

Again, programs like this ensure that young kids are not left out of the action and fun of being a kid. Soccer, rugby and rugby league all extend to young ages and with modified rules, the kids are given a fair go and a great stepping stone to sport throughout their junior years.

Playing these sports on the weekend should clearly show that the kids are capable. Sporting clubs and organisations are willing to give themselves over to the risk that injury will occur. Of course they are protected by insurance, but risk of injury is simply part of life in general, not to mention sports and games. It’s time for schools and other institutions to stop the nanny-state banning of sports and games and take a page from the books of these programs.

It’s About Discretion – the Cops and Robbers Debate

Hands up who played Cops and Robbers as a kid? What about Cowboys and Indians? Are there any blokes out there who can honestly say they have not once played with a plastic toy gun or even a water pistol?

Who remembers this?

I remember as a kid I had several toy guns. It was a very cool toy for a young lad and coupled with handcuffs I used to pretend I was a police officer busting the baddie (usually my brother). It never occurred to me at that young age that what I was doing could be potentially harmful to my psyche. I didn’t think then and there that by pulling that little plastic trigger I could be setting my self up for a life of crime. I suppose nobody thinks that but the truth is it’s just not true – at least not with toys. Debate continues to rage over the effects of violent video games on impressionable teens, but that is not what Let Kids Be Kids is about. The question is of young kids and healthy physical activity.

The inspiration for this post is a 2002 report by Ellen Sorokin which details several examples of nanny-state reactions. Startling is the case of the eight-year-old boy who was suspended from school for pointing his fingers at a teacher and saying “bang bang”. More incredibly, two second grade students from New York were suspended and criminally charged with making terrorist threats after pointing paper guns and saying “I’m going to kill you”.

The actions of the kids in the latter case here is obviously more concerning than the former but regardless, criminal charges?? Granted they were dropped, possibly laughed out of court, but they should never have been laid in the first place. These are second grade children we’re talking about. I refer to the questions at the start of this post: who has never held a toy gun of any kind and pretended to shoot? In the 20th Century, cops and robbers was one of the all time favourites of children around the world. Now, you could conceivably be locked up in juvenile detention for pointing your fingers at another. Surely this has gone way too far.

Let’s also keep in mind Sorokin’s article was published in 2002! The United States was still reeling from the worst terrorist attack on its people and paranoia was rife. But hang on, these are second graders we are talking about! If kids can no longer play cops and robbers, even with their fingers as guns, where is society headed? Another alarming question arises. Will kids turn to video games? Surely with absolutely no physical activity involved and no use of tangible ‘weapons’, kids will not become second generation Martin Bryants and Anders Behring Breiviks by sitting in front of a screen? Well I don’t need to tell you, that opens a whole new can of worms.

It is alarming when children are required to undergo psychological testing for threatening to shoot spit-balls at another child like a nine-year-old New Jersey boy did in 2002. It’s not nice, it’s mean, but it’s what kids do. A threat of spit-ball shooting is not the second coming of Columbine, as tragic as that incident was. The point is, it is about discretion. As a responsible, reasonable, rational society we have to be able to distinguish between serious psychological issues in children and simple game play. If we cannot do that, we might as well lock them in their bedrooms alone forever where they will be safe and, more importantly apparently, others will be safe from them.

 

Source:

Sorokin, E 2002, ‘Criminalizing playtime’, Insight on the News, April, Vol. 18, No. 15, p. 28

This Post Needs More ‘Heading’

In an article I found recently, a Connecticut (USA) soccer club was reported to have banned ‘heading’ the ball for children under the age of ten. For those unaware, heading basically involves using the head as one would their foot. That is, scoring goals, clearing the ball from defence and passing to other players using the head to strike the ball.

To use that old cliche again, “back in my day…”, I played soccer for three years at the same park level as the Connecticut club. I was over the age of ten, but I remember some of those headers felt like they were pulverising the old grey matter. It was something you braced for and had to be reasonably well trained to pull it off. There is one main reason I mention that I was over the age of ten and that is because at the level I was playing at, for memory it was under 12, the balls are kicked harder, higher and faster. When you headed those balls into goal or to an open teammate, you were meeting several kilograms of force. Sounds brutal and you certainly felt it, but like many others I have come through the other side and been able to tell the story of heading a ball clear over the goals. Our striker once scored using the technique.

Ultimately though, look at the idols of young soccer players these days. Christiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney, Lionel Messi, Emile Heskey. All of these players are at the level they are through relentless practice from the time they left the womb. That’s not to say every child will reach those heights, but to ban headers is to restrict development. An eleven-year-old player who has never headed the ball and is suddenly allowed to is in for a huge shock. Kids need practice with this skill and the earlier the better. I will not peddle the “it toughens them up” angle, but if nothing else, early training perfects the technique required to head the ball effectively and without injury.

Don’t start ferociously kicking balls at your five-year-old. But try to promote in your own home responsible physical activity for young kids. It is the best head start they can get for a healthy lifestyle!

“Back in my day…”

Welcome to the official site for the Let Kids Be Kids initiative. Let Kids Be Kids is just what it sounds like. This is about the rights of kids to have fun. More importantly, it is about the needs of kids to exercise. Over the past year, there has been a number of instances of schools and other institutions banning certain forms of physical activity. Handstands, cartwheels and even ball games have been banned in certain places. These decisions are based only on fear of liability and as a result, children are missing out on one of the most important aspects of their development, physical exercise. This is important not only for proper growth and strengthening of muscles, but for social and psychological development as well.

So we want to hear your stories. What do you remember about your childhood games? Were you the king of the handball court? Could you handstand for over a minute? What sort of physical activity did you engage in as a kid and how has it helped you today? Alternatively, maybe you weren’t the most active kid. Physical activity, while essential for health and wellbeing, is not easily picked up by everyone. If you didn’t play any sport or many games as a kid, what effect has that had on you today?

Thanks for coming aboard and we hope you find our cause interesting, informative and inspiring. Physical activity is important for growth, banning it is a step in the wrong direction.