This week we’ve been spending time with family in Florida. Besides an occasional storm that comes up in the late afternoon, the days have been hot and sunny. With twelve children ages 1 to 15 looking around for things to do, we’ve had to designate the morning hours, which are generally a little cooler, as “outside time.”
And it’s been a bit of a struggle. Usually, everyone is cooperative for the first thirty minutes or so; after that, they begin to whine and complain and ask to go inside. We’ve brought out scooters, rip sticks, bikes, bubbles, chalk, a hose, and a little wading pool, and still they’re asking to come in. They want to sit inside and watch T.V. and play on the computer. Granted, it’s more comfortable with the air conditioning, but they can come in during the afternoon to take a break and do those things.
Should we keep enforcing Outside Time? I think so. Besides the fact that it’s a lot of kids with a lot of energy to have running around in only a couple of rooms in the house, it’s important that they learn how to entertain themselves with other things. Even if the outdoor toys are limited, and all that’s available to play with is a few sticks, some dirt, and a rock, chidren need to know how to use their imaginations and make up their own games.
Often we think of creativity only in terms of the fine arts, but creativity is important in play as well. In fact, that’s where our creative processes begin, and sadly for many children, that’s where it ends as well, as their free time is consumed by television and video games. I’m determined, though, not to allow that to happen to my children. They’ll be glad to know (or maybe they won’t) that once we get home again, I’m instituting a daily “outside time.” I want those creative juices to flow!