This post could have also been titled: BC Government Gets it Right or Fun Things I Find in Gabe's Backpack.
For a few weeks now, maybe a month actually, I've been wanting to write about Gabe's dayplanner. It was a manditory purchase because it's a daily communication tool between us and the school, plus sometimes he does homework in it and it's a convenient place to look for notes and other things that come home. It's more than just a planner, however; it's also a daily and weekly activity planner, and by activity, I mean physical activity. It has little blurbs about how and why we should move our bodies every day, and suggestions on what to do and how. Nowhere so far, and it's late November, have I seen a single mention of weight loss or the supposed childhood obesity epidemic. I know Gabe isn't using it for anything but copying off the blackboard small notes for me every day, but I can bet that many other older students, either because of interest or boredom, are reading. Eventually messages about health and wellbeing sink in, absorbed like so many other messages we recieve every day about all manner of things. I'd much rather students see these messages about activity than weight loss!
Today I found more interesting goodness in the planner; a Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines sheet for kids age 5-11, a Let's Bring Back Play! fold-out and a nice button that says "I <3 Play", all from Healthy Families BC. Again, no mention of weight-loss or even managing your weight, in any of the materials. Colour me impressed!
I love that there's a concentrated effort to bring back free play. It wasn't apparent to me before I started reading Free Range Kids how bad things have gotten in some places, how limited kids are to activities that their parents or schools schedule, and how restricted their movements have become due to the culture of fear we now live in. We're afraid our kids will get hurt, or kidnapped, any time they're out of our sight, so we keep them close, which is stifling them in so many ways, not the least of which is physically. Kids NEED free play time to imagine and act-out their imaginings, to draw, paint and colour, to be outside and run in fields or climb trees or build forts. The only structured things Gabe does is school and on Friday evenings, karate for 45 minutes. Unfortunately, a lot of the time he's home, he's attached to a screen; watching cartoons or playing games. This is the opposite of free-play, and is unhealthy on many levels. As important as free-play is, I think of equal importance is screen-free time. As we move forward further into the 21st century, classrooms are going to become another place where screens are a big part of the day. It's good to see the school taking steps to balance things out. I'll be putting the I <3 Play button on his backpack before class tomorrow!
To my American readers, hope you're having a wonderful long weekend/Thankgiving celebration. For everyone else, have a great regular weekend!