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About six months ago our kids bought us an electronic device which is activated by one of us loudly saying Hey______ and in an instant questions are answered, music plays and the weather is offered for our convenience since we, like most folks these days are too LAZY to go outside for a few seconds to check weather conditions. Is it longs and longs, longs and shorts, shorts and shorts, jackets, hats, gloves, scarves, boots or not? Wait just asked the device experts.
Speaking of the electronic device, there has been an increase in those annoying, interfering and untimely phone calls, human and not human or is that inhuman. Is it a coincidence or is it because we have the new electronic device that knows when we are sitting down to a meal (where we often have topical conversations not about other people and their stuff but more of an intellectual, cerebral and spirited dialogue amongst us), on the land line, which we still have or more significantly on our way to the bathroom.
It knows when we are eating, it knows when we’re at work, it knows when we don’t want talk to them and it is hard to be good for goodness sake. We better watch out. We won’t cry, yet. Something or somebody is out there, like the X-Files truth. I have a big brother and I know he is not watching but perhaps somebody’s brother or like kind figure, human or not, is.
On a completely different topic, I have an update to a few of my previous BLOG Posts about kids of which, even at my advanced age, am proud to say, I am one at least in spirit and heart not necessarily in abilities or technological knowledge. Remember, I still have and use a Flip-Phone!!!
The following has little, if any, relevance except that it all benefits kids. What follows is a statement about kids, learning and empowerment. It might be considered “out of the box thinking” but anyone who has ever worked with kids will understand and relate to the contents of this correspondence.
There are two unwritten and undocumented rules in business: Know Your Product, Know Your Customers. The same is true for education.
I know Kids and how they think, understand, learn, behave, respond and process the learning experience. Kids first. When you have their attention, trust and confidence they can be taught, guided, empowered, inspired and motivated to learn. When you listen to kids, rather than judge them, they are at the ready to proceed with learning and life in general.
PLAY. When PLAY is NOT in the plan the kids are being set up to meet with less success than those kids who are allowed, permitted and ENCOURAGED to PLAY. Many life lessons are learned on the field of play without yelling, screaming, hollering, badgering, annoying, embarrassing, parents in their space. Let the kids play. They know they need to PLAY. So please let kids PLAY!!!
The following is a brief list of Life Lessons Learned on the Field of PLAY:
Getting Dirty which is just great!!!
One of the best teachers is the game of CHESS.
In addition to the Life Skills listed above CHESS teaches:
Quickness of Thought
Value (especially the Queen)
Body Language Signals
Closing the Game
Teachers wear many hats and for many kids are a role model, parent, counselor, advisor, mentor and leader which actually is quite a burden and load for teachers to handle, manage and control. For many, that is why they are teachers because they get satisfaction, joy and reward by preparing the next generation for the challenges of the future. Keep in mind, there are just as many disappointments, frustrations and annoyances with teachers, however, most teachers will say that one success story far outweighs the many stories that are not as successful.
The basics of teaching: Know your stuff. Know your kids. It is that simple. Simple works best, which is why folks get along with me, since they like the simple things in life.
Empowerment: Kids love to be empowered and thoroughly enjoy actually doing the things they learned. Better yet watch as a kid teachers another kid what they have just learned. Kids become teachers to and for kids. WOW!!!
BOREDOM: When kids, and all people for that matter, are BORED nothing good happens. Not saying that kids have to be completely occupied and immersed in an activity all day every day. Just saying that kids need to have Things To Do To Fight BOREDOM, The Enemy Of Us All. By the way, a college research paper I completed over 40 years ago on Juvenile Delinquency (remember that label?) concluded that most negative, inappropriate and illegal behaviors occurred between the hours of school dismissal and midnight. Not much has changed except perhaps that the window has been expanded. The credentialed, certified and pedigreed experts have suggested many changes and alternative methods to teaching and behavior management and similar to fashion and hair styles most repeat themselves, with different jargon, over time. As with many things in life, the BASICS work. Perhaps, this is a good time to return to the BASICS rather than burdening the education professionals with yet another whimsical, research rich set of rules, regulations, encumbrances and failures.
G: Verb. Get Up Get Out Get Going. PLAY. PLAY. PLAY. PLAY is productive in so many ways and not just for kids
By the way, the three bold highlighted items just mentioned are titles of my three, as of yet, unpublished books so if anyone is reading this who can be of assistance in having my three books published please let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Keep away from the “SCREENS”!!! Telephones, Computers, Tablets, I-Pads, Televisions and whatever else distracts kids from being kids. They need to have electronic access which is an empowering tool but teach the kids that it is just one tool of many that can make them strong, prepared, enriched and enlightened.
Examples are always the best explanations so here goes:
When our son was in summer day camp I would pick him up around noon. At home we would eat lunch and he would relax until 2 PM when he and I would ride bikes, swim or attempt to fish at the mud hole. This got old real fast and I knew I had to do something. I went back to the days of my youth. My wife and I got on the telephone and sent e-mails to the families of the kids from day camp who I knew were in town and probably struggling with the same boredom as my son and I. Our message was simple: Pick-up baseball at the park. Bring your glove, bat and water. The first day nine kids showed up and I did infield and batting practice with them. By the third day 26 kids showed up ranging in age from third to ninth grade. I appointed two kids as managers/captains. They had to choose teams fairly, make the batting order and assign field positions which were to be changed every inning or two so that each kid had the chance to play as many positions as desired. I did the pitching to keep the game moving. Kids came on foot, by bike, on scooters, and by car. Parents could stay or they could do whatever they had or wanted to do. I scheduled the game to go from 2-4 PM when parents would arrive to take their kids home. No one wanted to be first to take their kid home and many were the times that we played until 6 PM when I would take the initiative by shutting things down. The kids went home tired, hungry and ready for tomorrow. Often I would get calls at home from kids and parents wanting to know if the game was on for tomorrow. This is what kids should be doing. Playing without the yelling, screaming, hollering, structure, trophies, pictures and goodie bags. The kids were outdoors where they belong having fun, resolving their own issues, learning about life and just having fun at play. On the weekends if there was a game I let other Dads, who were busy during the week, get involved and be part of the action as I sat back and watched. At first they wanted to do everything but soon learned and were encouraged by me to back away and let the kids be kids. All those kids are now in college or working. When they around and we meet their first remarks are about the great time and fun they had playing “Pick-Up” baseball at the park and they always ask, “hey coach, game today”?
During the summer months I would take my 30 foot long jump rope to the park along with our two kids.
I would tie one end of the jump rope to a bench or tree while I took the other end and twirled the rope so the kids could do their jumping. The kept count and when they needed a break they would jump out get, some water, wipe their sweaty brows and jump back in.
As always the park was filled with kids most of whom were friendly with our kids. The other kids would come over to our jump rope spot and with a bit of curiosity watched for a few minutes and either they asked our kids if they could jump in or they would just look at me with a gesture or use their eyes to ask if they could jump in All I did was motion with my hand to jump in and jump in they did.
The kids were quite creative in their jumping. Some wanted to go it alone while others, after a few jumps by themselves, asked others to join them making a 2,3,4 and a few more kids jumping at the same time. I was so bold as to ask all the kids if they wanted to jump at the same time to see how many rotations they could. After multiple practice sessions I lined 22 kids in a single line all of varying ages and heights from 2nd graders to high school kids yes even high school age kids wanted to be part of the action.
The result of the kids’ tenacious efforts and my determination to have them achieve a goal was that those 22 kids managed to jump 18 consecutive rotations. Subsequently the same and even greater numbers were achieved. It was wonderful to see the older kids encourage the younger kids. By the way the younger kids in a family generally turn out to be the better athletes since they, the younger kids, are constantly playing with their siblings older friends.
Most of our jump rope evenings had a large number of kids jumping. Even more wonderful was number of “grown-ups” watching, (as grown-ups do these days and for the past generation or two), some even offering to turn the rope so I could get a drink for myself. It was quite heartwarming to see, especially the younger kids, run up to their parents yelling “I did it, I did it”.
A night of jump roping did not go by that most every grown-up, many of whom I knew from the school and local community, came to me and said “Thanks”.
The kids not only jumped rope they learned about themselves and what they could accomplish. They raised their confidence, awareness and self esteem. They learned that the big kids are fun to play with. They learned social skills. They learned patience waiting their turn to jump. They learned about life from PLAY.
Add to my narrative a ball to kick, bike to ride, hill to climb, puddle to splash in, tree to climb, swing to swing upon and all the other positive, healthy, productive, engaging fun things for kids to do and watch them excel in school.
The cynics, doubters and critics will rip apart my unsubstantiated, unprofessional and unworthy theory and process. That is fine with me.
When I was a kid I was taught: Those who can, do. Those who can’t, don’t and won’t merely talk. The talkers are experts knowledgeable in their field harnessing gathered data and transforming it into a rather substantial collection of research covering hundreds if not thousands of pages. Who reads, understands and uses the contents? Who can comprehend hundreds and thousands of pages of stuff such as The Federal Budget, The Mueller Report and The Mt. Laurel housing decision? Very few, if any, at all. But ask yourself, who can PLAY? EVERYBODY!!!
Keep it Simple Keep It Real
POWER UP YOUR POWER ‘CAUSE THE POWER IS IN YOU!!!