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CHILDREN'S and YOUNGSTERS'
LESS REGULAR EXERCISE
It seems many children’s out of school lives, especially in the colder months, are regulated around play dates and sleepovers,
with a specific group of children, and families taking turns to host the events. Children are ferried to and from these dates by parents or childminders.
These habits have made me wonder
and worry about the modern strictures on the lives of our children and youngsters.
According to Bill Murphy Jr, of TheMid.com, students, and especially boys, need hours of physical activity every day; and they do not get enough because their schools will not let them. (Please
see the excerpts from various Studies gathered together in the last Section of this Post. They deal with the co-relation between physical activity, behaviour, and well-being, amongst other matters.)
We inhibit children's academic growth (especially among
boys), because the lack of physical activity makes it harder for them to concentrate. (Please see the details of the Finnish Study on physical inactivity leading to poor school results and ill-health in the last Section of this Post.)
seem usually to involve visits to the cinema, or to themed arenas based around well-known animated film or television characters. If one adds the price of soft drinks, popcorn, chocolates or other sweets, to cinema ticket prices, and the cost
of soft drinks, pizzas, burgers, or hot dogs, to the sleepover, these events become expensive, particularly if the host family is expected to pay for everything for all the children. A presumption
arises that certain treats always accompany these events, and parents who try to change the menu, to cut out at least some of the unhealthy foods and drinks, seem to be breaking sacred rules.
are physically sedate activities, involving excessive consumption of poor nutritional quality foods and drinks. These outings or
sleepovers could automatically exclude some classmates or neighbours because of the cost involved.
When do children get to run around freely living in their imaginations, rather than being part of structured sports?
All physical activity is welcome, but children need opportunities to pretend they are flying.
some children live in a 'virtual' compound, playing with the same group of children, meeting the same sets of parents, and being fed passive entertainment that requires little intellectual or physical engagement.
All children, from a young age, and young people, NEED three hours free play, running around, every
day. Due to cut backs in schools, breaktimes have been shortened, and have become fewer in some schools as there are fewer teachers to supervise.
At school, the inclination NOT to go outside for a break, even if it's dry and sunny, seems the soporific choice of many.
With stuffy, heated, classrooms - air and movement are crucial to children's health - physical, intellectual, and emotional. The exercise is vital to aiding learning.
Children, especially young children, just CANNOT be expected to sit at a desk for four hours straight. They
go bonkers and then get into trouble for being 'unruly'. They feel the unfairness of it very
DEVELOPING SOCIAL SKILLS
What happened to developing
the social skills of greeting neighbours, young and old, and remarking on the weather?
Why should children be denied
the pleasure of walking around their own neighbourhoods with an adult, noticing the trees as they change through the seasons, and having a good snoop in gardens and window boxes as they pass? A child has to have a sense of belonging, and that cannot be based solely around a limited group of people.
SELF-RELIANCE AND RESILIENCE
A child has to be able to say “This is my street; that is our postman, Seamus; there is our local shop, owned by Mrs Golden, where I spend my
Children have to know they can go
to their neighbour, upstairs or next door, if there is an accident at home, and help is needed. Clearly, they would have to know these neighbours, know their names, and know them well enough to decide which would be most useful in an emergency.
As a child, knowing where you live, and who lives around you, helps develop necessary self-reliance and resilience.
If a child watches parents and other adults interact with neighbours, and people in shops, they will acquire the habits of making transactions in shops
in a friendly fashion, helping to carry shopping, or helping
weed an older neighbour’s garden or window box: there is so much to learn from these older neighbours on the local wildlife, where to see the hedgehogs hibernate, and where the foxes eat.
This child is laying foundations for a well-balanced, engaged, sociable, responsible, personality.
ARE AT HOME IN CITIES
[Excerpts follow from an Article of Monday, January 05, 2015, by Donal
Hickey, in the Irish Examiner newspaper.]
in city and country areas may hear eerie cries these nights, but be not be afraid. The screams might sound like the banshee' (anglicisation of the Irish for the fairy woman). 'More than likely, however, it’s a female fox as we are in the mating
season for the madra rua' (the Irish for fox, madra rua translates as "red dog").
'Foxes mate in January / February and gardaí (police) have been called out, at times, by concerned people to investigate such screams which can be like those of a child in distress.'
'Despite being painted, historically, as a villain in children’s storybooks, and a killer of farmyard fowl, the fox is a
human’s friend in many ways. In a recent column, we referred to a huge growth in the rat population this year, but the fox preys on rats and it is estimated in some studies that the average fox can kill upwards of six rodents per day.'
'People keeping hens these days usually have them well protected – indeed mink can be a bigger threat
in that regard in some areas. We regularly see foxes crossing roads at night and the population would appear quite strong. Unfortunately, though, many foxes are also killed by traffic.'
'The old saying, "as cute as a fox’’, contains more than a grain of truth, for this is a very intelligent animal as evidenced by the way it
has adapted to the urban environment. According to research in England, there are about 33,000 foxes roaming UK cities, and clearly thriving there. I’ve seen foxes nonchalantly walking around residential areas of London after dark, looking very
much at home.'
'Urban foxes are common in Dublin City
and suburbs, and can be seen at night around Grafton St and O’Connell St, with dens near Dáil Eireann (Irish Parliament) ... .' These locations are all in the City Centre of Dublin.
'Foxes can poke out ample food by raiding domestic waste bins or eating food left out for household pets. So, if you don’t want them around,
don’t leave food lying around outside. Where foxes are common, many houses will be visited at some stage of the night, back or front garden.
' ... people should not panic if they see a fox in the garden,' .... 'foxes are pretty harmless and they will run away if approached. However, as with all wild animals, never try to
corner a fox as it may bite in panic.'
'The fact that urban foxes can be very daring
sometimes upsets people. This is because they have become accustomed to the noise and smells of the city.'
'The vixen gives birth in March / April to four or five cubs in the den and, during the Summer, the young will spend a lot of time playing above ground. From late September the cubs begin to disperse to find their own territories.'
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved.
I do not imagine for a moment that the parents who organize
their children’s lives down to the smallest detail, mean to restrict their children’s social and personal development. Indeed, they may believe that they are spending time and money for the
greater benefit of their children.
TAKE A CHANCE!
one takes away the pre-planning of almost every minute of children's social events, and have children meet up, wearing appropriate clothing and footwear, and escort them on a walk to a local
park, no matter the weather, with sufficient adults to keep track of the children, ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN!
LET CHILDREN DISCOVER FOR THEMSELVES
The children will make up their own activities. This may take a while, because many are
used to being handed their pastimes, but they should be let get on with it, without assistance.
The adults would have to refrain, no matter how difficult, from making suggestions for games or organised
activities. There would be no footballs, no hurleys, and no sliotars.
Some children will chase
around wildly, some will climb almost anything, and others will get down on the grass and peep under stones. Children will slip, trip up, fall over. A few bruises, scrapes, and bumps, are inevitable, and
should not be fussed over.
The children should be
left to their own devices, and shall start coming up with their own ideas of what they want to do once they start getting used to the space they are in. They could investigate puddles with a veneer of ice, and possibly discover a fox's den, or
get together in small groups to count how many different types of tree they can find. They could compete to see how many very rare specimens of perfect leaves they can find.
Some will be bored, possibly for a good while, waiting for something to happen. Eventually,
these children will realize that they have to do it for themselves.
Let them have the time they need to realize this.
Boredom is a very important part of children's lives.
It is the base from which inspiration is born.
Getting muddy, grass-stained,
and soggy, are to be expected, and nobody should be wearing ‘good’ clothes. The adults’ job is to watch out for the children's safety, not to worry about youngsters' clothes getting dirty!
Other children will be playing in the park, and meeting up is inevitable. With luck, magic caves containing monsters, may be discovered!
Enjoy Every Moment Outdoors!
Iseult Catherine O'Brien
Please see the Companion Post ~
"Nature in the City"
If you have any comments,
positive or negative, I should welcome hearing your views.
If you find any errors or wish to disagree with any of the above, I should be very glad
to hear from you.
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