Monday, 7 July 2014

Ain't No Time to Play

The boy is worried.  As his first year at primary school draws to an end he's said more than once "I won't get to play as much when I'm in Year One".  The same thing happened with his sister and it is true.  Reception class is awesome - lots of time outdoors, play-based learning and just a reading book plus a little spelling for homework.  They even get afternoons outside where the whole lesson is geared around the natural environment - something inspired by the Norwegian outdoor learning model.  Come Year One, these will stop and he'll be bringing home projects that are impossible for children to do independently and so become 'family homework'.  That's on top of the reading, spelling, and times tables.   Little wonder he doesn't want to move up.

Now I think we are a family that is very much invested in our children's education.  We pay attention, help, take an interest and support them.  But it all feels a bit sad to know that they are being primed and geared from the age of five for exams and 'getting ready' for secondary school.  Short of taking them out of the state system and going for something like the Dolphin or a Montessori school I felt a bit hamstrung.  If the school focuses more on academic instruction than play then what can I do?  And then something happened in our bathroom to wake me up.  My daughter came to find me to ask me to play, and to my shame, I uttered the sentence "I can't, I'm cleaning the shower".  Now this was factually true - it is hard to participate in a game when you're wearing rubber gloves and have a container of Flash in one hand (unless you're into some really specialist stuff) but I felt like a pretty crappy parent when I heard myself say it.  Even my daughter gave me a look that said "yep mum, that's pretty much the lamest sentence you've ever said to me."

Tickets please!  Photo (c)
So the gloves came off and within a moment I was running around the garden with the children playing 'tickets please' where essentially one person gets to be an irate ticket inspector while the other two fail to show the correct ticket for going down the slide.  Within half an hour I was on my front on the slide with both children balanced on my back.  We all took skin off our knees, fingers and elbows (who knew plastics slides could be so injurous?!) but we were all also laughing like drains - not cleaning them.  So as the summer holidays come closer and the play days at school drift away I'll be paying more attention to how much playtime we're enjoying, not how grubby the bathroom looks.

Soundtrack: No Time to Play - Guru



  1. Hi Toni,

    I love reading your blog posts about your family. It gives me a llittle insight into what it might be like when I eventually have my own. :) I chuckled outloud about 'tickets please'! Sounds like a game I might have played with my brother when I was a kid. And plastic slights are the devil - especially for static! Thank you :) Imi

    1. Hi Imi - thanks for dropping by! So glad you're enjoying the blog - and oh I had forgotten about plastic slide static, so true! Yesterday involved a cub scout meeting where a length of plastic sheeting was covered in water and washing up liquid - it was messy..... :) xx