My children have enjoyed being outside in the beautiful sunshine today. They’ve climbed trees, eaten mud and even *gasp* done kartwheels on the playground. Yes, that’s right- on concrete. Slap my wrists.
The world may have gone health and safety mad, but I haven’t. Serious accidents aside (and touch wood, we’ve escaped those so far, unless you count the big one’s attempt to fly down Nanna’s stairs) there is really nothing wrong with a few scrapes and bruises that can be cured with a kiss and a magic plaster. Don’t kids have to learn the hard way sometimes?
A friend of mine teaches in New Zealand and at certain times of the year the children come to school in bare feet. Unfortunately, there is a little too much dog poo on the streets over here to even contemplate that (also broken glass and cigarette butts and litter…) but you might get my point. They climb trees on the school grounds and are encouraged to do so. They get to school at 7.30 am because they want to go cross country running through the dense woodland by the school. There is no fence around the perimeter of the playground. They aren’t enclosed.
I know that we need to have fences and security locks on the doors and I.D tags and no trees to climb. I understand that. As a teacher it is really quite stressful when the murmering around the playground grows a little more urgent and you realise a child has broken free and has started to climb a tree. It IS dangerous and I’m only really happy to supervise my own children in that activity. But I do think that schools have taken the whole issue a little far in some cases. We aren’t allowed to do kartwheels, play conkers ( or even bring conkers into school) give out lollies as a birthday treat or collect leaves from the woodlands without wearing plastic gloves. Kids aren’t allowed to be kids, sometimes.
When the big one was at nursery I used to wonder how she could get so dirty. She used to come home with mud in her hair, under her nails and ALL over her clothes. The nursery manager told me that was a sign she had been having fun. Yes, yes- but HOW did she do it? I happened upon the answer one day. She was lying in the muddiest patch of the garden and making mud angels- like snow angels, only a LOT dirtier. Brilliant.