Are mums really doing it all wrong?
This blog post is by Nicola Baird sharing ideas about thrifty, creative and eco-friendly ways to raise children. This post asks if childhood really does need saving. For more info about my book Homemade Kids, with lots of ideas about parenting click here.
It’s an old joke – the pensioner looks back to his young days with nostalgic, rose-tinted spectacles. This means he may claim, say, London’s Caledonian Road used to be a happy place where everyone knew each other and kept their doors open all weathers at the same time as you tell the TV interviewer that everyone wore two pairs of trousers so they could stuff stolen goods down them without the police noticing. The reality is obvious to anyone – it was a shark’s den, with permanently drunk slaughters at one end, and the King’s Cross prostitutes at the other.
We mix up our childhood memories all the time. Misery memoirs sell like hot cakes, but we insist being young was bliss. And then we drive our kids home from school so they’re on time for the maths tutor, or whoever is giving them special coaching today.
I’m writing this on international mud day (yes, it exists, friday 29 june 2012) – hopefully not the only date in the year where children are allowed to get a bit muddy. I read about this celebration on a wonderful website called http://loveoutdoorplay.net which has the most creative ideas (possibly on the planet), plus a whole load of strategy and enthusiastic followers trying to give the green light back to outdoor, messy play.
Ironically the muddy celebration is very close to the date that the Save Childhood Movement was launched (27 june 2012). This group claims that British children are the unhappiest on the planet. Surely an exaggeration seeing as British children are generally not starving, have free health care and the potential for at the least an OK education, if not better than that? But if you want the rationale have a look at the Daily Telegraph story here.
What needs saving?
The main lessons from the Save Childhood Movement – who have some seriously big names supporting it – seem to be let your kids play outside. Don’t give them screens. Let their brains develop the way they should – experimenting, failing, trying again and again, succeeding – as they scramble around out of doors.
I am certain that less tutoring, and less screens makes a happier child, who will hopefully become a well-adjusted adult. But the truth is that there’s no right way to drag up your kids. That said I don’t think you can go far wrong by teaching them to be kind, and to think, ideally while hanging around outside…
Over to you
What do you do to encourage your kids off facebook (or the equivalent)? Do you feel exams put children under pressure – is the GCSE cycle of constant assessment tougher for the brain than two year’s work and then one final exam? And are you honest about the good and bad bits of your own childhood?