I remember too much from my young childhood, from dad teaching me how to ride a bike, and the days my mom would pick me up from school, we would eat and talk about books at the canteen while we were waiting for my younger brother and sister to finish their school. And I can remember one vacation with my family by the hills and mountains of village when I was very young, when my grandfather showed me how big these mountains are. All of these memories leave me with happy, warm feelings about my childhood. The best was getting outside with the toys and cycles. The possibilities were endless. It could become a cycle race, cycling together and playing toy houses, a house, a boat, a shop. All of the kids on the block would get together with my siblings and me to play every evening. As soon as the weather got warm enough, my parents would take me and the siblings to this special store that sold these really elaborate kite kits. Then we’d take them home, and put them together that night. The next day, we’d take them out in a giant field, and fly them. It was so, so beautiful. The best memories were the games and the time we all used to spend outdoors. When I was growing up in the 80’s, I and my friends spent plenty of time outdoors. We played at the park, in each other’s backyards, or the vacant lot at the end of the street in my old neighbourhood. Children of now are spending less time on sports and active play and more time with TVs and video games. Children are becoming weaker, less muscular and unable to do physical tasks that previous generations found simple. Today’s kids go outside for just over an hour each weekday, and fewer than five hours on weekends — a marked contrast to generations growing up in the 80’s and 90’s, who racked up more than two hours of outside play each weekday, and enjoyed a whopping nine hours of outdoor play on the weekends. Kids today get fewer benefits of outdoor, unstructured play as a result. Physical activity improves learning, concentration, self-esteem, creativity and social skills, and is especially important in the first three years of life, when brains are rapidly developing. Today, many children do not have enough play opportunities at home because of TV, videos, and the computer. They interact with toys that are not conducive to building imagination and interesting dramatic play themes. In many instances, pretend play with siblings and neighbourhood children is not available. Playing outdoors and getting exposure to the nature and goodness of it, gives children the space to learn independence and self-reliance, to appreciate life outside a touch screen — and a place to dream, play and imagine — which is what childhood is all about.
This post is written for the #BachpanWithFlinto blogger contest on Women’s Web
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