Category Archives: outdoors

Poor Claude (Monet)

“I was born undisciplined. Never, even as a child, could I be made to obey a set rule. What little I know I learned at home. School was always like a prison to me, I could never bring myself to stay there, even four hours a day, when the sun was shining and the sea was so tempting, and it was such fun scrambling over cliffs and paddling in the shallows. Such, to the great despair of my parents, was the unruly but healthy life I lived until I was fourteen or fifteen. In the meantime I somehow picked up the rudiments of reading, writing and arithmetic, with a smattering of spelling. And there my schooling ended. It never worried me very much because I always had plenty of amusements on the side. I doodled in the margins of my books, I decorated our blue copy paper with ultra-fantastic drawings, and I drew the faces and profiles of my schoolmasters as outrageously as I could, distorting them out of all recognition.”

== Claude Monet, quoted in: Denis Rouart (1972) Claude Monet, p. 21 : About his youth

https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Claude_Monet

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Filed under outdoors, quotes, school = prison, Sudbury Schools and Sudbury Valley School, The three Rs

Standardized testing in schools: How about health and exercise?

“Over all, the accelerometer data showed that the children were sedentary during about 70 percent of their day… . On average, only about 48 minutes in a child’s day — about 12 percent of the time he or she spent in child care — were set aside for active play time… Compared to the recommended 120 minutes per day of physically active time for children at this age, the average of 48 minutes per day during which children had even the opportunity for active play is “considerably suboptimal,” the researchers wrote.”
http://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/05/27/preschoolers-more-likely-to-sit-around-than-run-around-at-school/?_r=0

And this is for pre-schoolers. I am sure it is even worse for older kids in school. So why don’t traditional schools get a bit more nuts on testing the aerobic capacity, flexibility, strength, agility, etc. of the kids?

Even the CDC says: “Children and adolescents should do 60 minutes (1 hour) or more of physical activity each day. Aerobic activity should make up most of your child’s 60 or more minutes of physical activity each day.”
http://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/everyone/guidelines/children.html

My son regularly says:
“I was outside running around ALL DAY at school today” at Sudbury Valley School http://sudval.org

And I believe it. My two boys regularly come home from school sweaty and with a fine layer of dirt covering their entire body with tales of complicated collaborative games that they’ve been playing. Right now basketball is pretty popular. Followed by nukem and 4-square. But I’ve been hearing a lot about handball, ultimate, pickle, and a three-team tag/capture-the-flag sort of game someone came up with called Frank. I haven’t really been able to sort out what that’s all about.

Sidebar: Important tips when your kids got to a Sudbury School
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Fall/Spring: Stock up on sunscreen and band-aids. Your kid might be riding a bike at age 4 or 3.5. It’s worth paying for good bikes (and helmets of course). Start with 12″, then 16″ (still ok to be kick-brakes), then 20″ (this should be a 6 speed with had brakes), then 24″. Trek or specialized seem like the way to go. craigslist is great. Buy 2 if necessary to avoid having to bring the bike to and from school everyday if you don’t want the hassle. “Iron Knee” jeans from Lands End really do seem to hold up needing little knee-patching and they also sell “slim” sizes.

Cold winters: “There is no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing.” Buy extra pairs of waterproof gloves and mittens. You might need to alternate days when 1 pair is still drying out or a pair is “lost” at school. A boot-dryer is invaluable and knowing the trick of drying-out shoes with newspaper. 2 pairs of smartwool socks can help. Polyester fleece pants. The sturdiest sleds seem to be the foam ones. Most of the hard plastic ones seem to break too quickly compared to the ones I used as a kid. For younger kids: figure out what is easiest jacket for zipping-up themselves without having to ask a staff member.

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Filed under health, obesity, outdoors, Sudbury Schools and Sudbury Valley School

Ice trumps movie

The word from SVS is that the movie-filming schedule took a hit today due to a variety of not-completely-understood-by-me factors but one of them being the fact that that the pond is finally skateable for the first time this winter.

The boys brought their skates today and Ansel announced that “I skated pretty much all day. Best day ever! Except the picnic.” (Except the picnic, which I glean is awesome because it involves unlimited yummy food and ultimate/frisbee pretty much all day)

Sudbury Valley School for the win.

Here’s a great ice day from winter 2014:
https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.647983288581622.1073741854.493359334044019&type=3

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Filed under outdoors, play, seasons, sports, Sudbury Schools and Sudbury Valley School

Children’s Risky Play From an Evolutionary Perspective: The Anti-Phobic Effects of Thrilling Experiences

… Sandseter began observing and interviewing children on playgrounds in Norway. In 2011, she published her results in a paper called “Children’s Risky Play From an Evolutionary Perspective: The Anti-Phobic Effects of Thrilling Experiences.” Children, she concluded, have a sensory need to taste danger and excitement; this doesn’t mean that what they do has to actually be dangerous, only that they feel they are taking a great risk. That scares them, but then they overcome the fear. In the paper, Sandseter identifies six kinds of risky play:
(1) Exploring heights, or getting the “bird’s perspective,” as she calls it—“high enough to evoke the sensation of fear.”
(2) Handling dangerous tools—using sharp scissors or knives, or heavy hammers that at first seem unmanageable but that kids learn to master.
(3) Being near dangerous elements—playing near vast bodies of water, or near a fire, so kids are aware that there is danger nearby.
(4) Rough-and-tumble play—wrestling, play-fighting—so kids learn to negotiate aggression and cooperation.
(5) Speed—cycling or skiing at a pace that feels too fast.
(6) Exploring on one’s own.

This last one Sandseter describes as “the most important for the children.” She told me, “When they are left alone and can take full responsibility for their actions, and the consequences of their decisions, it’s a thrilling experience.”

LINK: http://www.theatlantic.com/features/archive/2014/03/hey-parents-leave-those-kids-alone/358631/

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Filed under kids -- freedom and responsibility, outdoors, play, playgrounds

Sudbury Valley School vs playgrounds and recess

I think the problem I have with playgrounds, especially #6 below (with the huge blue blocks) is that even the good ones (and these are rare!) are contrived and are not going to hold interest for long — like a museum. I guess I would have to see if any had much staying power vs the more real / organic / wild / natural versions of (#1) adventure playground and (#2) the campus of Sudbury Valley School (SVS) but I would guess not.

And not only because the blue blocks are less useful than real tools or artifacts the kids create from actual found objects (as at SVS), but also importantly, because (especially at Sudbury Valley School) the kids are in charge of their own time COMPLETELY. It isn’t just a 1/2 hour recess… it is their whole day that they are free to do as they wish — playing (or working… call it as you wish) outdoors or indoors.

And also importantly, at Sudbury Valley School (and other Sudbury Schools) it is within a context of a self-governed community — real direct democracy as embodied in the SVS Lawbook and executed by the Judicial Committee, the School Meeting, and the various elected clerkships and committees. Real consent of the governed is powerful.

Whereas, at a “playground” at some arbitrary short point, the whistle will blow, or the parents will say “times up” after an hour or 2.

Also, outside of school hours… playgrounds are typically hit or miss.  Unless in a safe, dense area…. it is going to mean kids need to get their via parents/cars.  Vs at SVS, there is a rich environment of “everyone is here” available.  Cohousing neighborhoods offer that possibility as well, as long as people aren’t doing too much in the way of scheduled, adult run outside activities, pulling them away from the neighborhood.

LINKS

1) Adventure Playgrounds
http://adventureplaygrounds.hampshire.edu/index.html
(as noted here: http://www.theatlantic.com/features/archive/2014/03/hey-parents-leave-those-kids-alone/358631/)

2) Sudbury Valley School
http://sudval.org/
(as noted here with links to fort building and other outdoor play: https://ehaugsjaa.wordpress.com/2013/11/30/outdoors-at-school/)

3) Power tools for kids
https://ehaugsjaa.wordpress.com/2011/03/20/power-tools-for-kids/

4) Wilderness programs for kids
e.g. http://earthworkprograms.com/

5) Fat Albert — cartoon at the junkyard
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6WT-fxBNKs8

6) Imagination Playgrouds (sterile version of Adventure Playgrounds)
https://playgroundology.wordpress.com/category/imagination-playgrounds/
company that makes big blue blocks: http://www.imaginationplayground.com/

7) How Little League sports used to be (no parents… just kids)
Excerpt from Peter Gray
https://ehaugsjaa.wordpress.com/2009/10/27/little-league-in-sun-prairie-wisconsin/

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Filed under outdoors, play, playgrounds, recess, Sudbury Schools and Sudbury Valley School