Outdoor play is a priority for our family. I consider outdoor play more important than formal schooling for toddlers and preschoolers.
A few weeks ago, I made a controversial statement on The Golden Gleam's Facebook page. Basically, I was upset that the United States is moving towards universal preschool yet I am discouraged that I don't see many preschoolers playing in our parks and playgrounds.
I lost a lot of fans by making that statement. Understandably, those who work in preschools or send their children to public preschool have a right to feel offended by it.
I am not against preschools or preschool teachers.
I am against keeping our youngest children indoors for hours at at time, almost every day of the week.
I am against preschools not considering unstructured outdoor play as a pivotal part of their preschools' curriculum.
I am against the idea that parents are encouraged to think that academic learning is more important than unstructured play for our youngest children.
This is what I view as the troubling norm. Sure, there are wonderful exceptions, but it seems more and more people don't understand the vital importance of free play in our preschoolers lives.
And why am I against the trend of prioritizing academics in preschool over unstructured play?
I am against these things because they are unnecessary.
It is more likely our children will develop the behavioral habit of self discipline that is needed for academic success if they have plenty of time for outdoor free play.
Wait, what about the academics? How will they succeed without becoming academically prepared for kindergarten?
First off, it doesn't take hours a day to teach a child the basics for kindergarten readiness. If it is taking hours a day, the child probably isn't developmentally ready to learn those concepts yet.
Most importantly, if children don't have the self discipline needed for school, they won't be able to learn.
How do I know this? As a former elementary school teacher in the inner city, it was much easier to teach a student who knew how to behave in school versus children who were unable to make good choices about following school rules.
Sometimes children behaved so poorly they disrupted other children from learning. It wasn't the lack of academic preparation that made teaching difficult. It was a child's inability to manage his own behavior.
I believe success in school has everything to do with self discipline.
And the best way for our preschool children to learn how to control their own behavior is by making unstructured outdoor play a part of the daily schedule. At least an hour a day, hours a day would be better.
At the next Outdoor Play Party, I will be sharing how my children are developing positive behavioral habits like self discipline by playing outdoors.
I invite you to make unstructured outdoor play a priority for your family. Don't worry, they will develop the behavioral skills they need to succeed in school with unstructured outdoor play.
Featured Outdoor Play Party Posts about Free Play
Free Play with Grandma by Like Mama Like Daughter
When You Take Your Kids Outside by Curly Birds
Adventures Outdoors by Mummy Mishaps
Children Can Fly Too by Flights of Whimsy
Now, it's your turn to share how your children having been playing outside.