Hi Folks! Just got this disturbing little note from reader Jeff Johnson who, I am happy to say, is writing a book about the importance of play. — L.
Dear Free-Range Kids: Just wondering how much you’re hearing about the death of games like tag on school playgrounds.
I volunteer in a local kindergarten once a week. Last Thursday I had this exchange with some students during recess:
Me: Let’s play some freeze tag!
Kindergartner #1: We aren’t sposed to play tag.
Kindergartner #2: Yeah, you want to get us in trouble or something?
Me: What The Fu…n-killing kind of rule is that? Why can’t you play tag?
Kindergartner #3: ‘Cus it’s The Rule.
Kindergartner #4 (Whispering, as if the playground is bugged ): We still play sometimes in secret when the teachers are just talking.
I emailed the principal–she says it is just “too dangerous” with so many kids on the playground.
In a year, this school will merge with another into a shiny new building (which looks kind of like a perky prison) with over 700 elementary students. I’m afraid to think about what will classified as too dangerous then. – J.J.
Johnson then wrote another note to report:
UPDATE: Today at recess I learned that the kids are not allowed to play in and/or with snow on the playground. The kids are restricted to the cleared asphalt area of the playground. I also saw two great looking perfect-for-play sticks taken away from children and put in protective custody.
I shudder to think what would happen to a child caught playing tag in the snow while holding a stick. — J.J.