I hope you are planning to take your kids to your local park and leave them there on Saturday, May 9. Me, I will be spending “Take inzetkkens
Our Children to the Park … and Let Them Walk Home by Themselves Day” morning at the Central Park playground at 85th Street and Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. Joining me will be one of the wisest men I know, that huge champion of kids playing unsupervised: Peter Gray!
Gray is a professor at Boston College and author of the basic psychology textbook used at colleges all over America, including Harvard. No slouch. He is also the author of one of my favorite books — if you ever see my copy, you’d getdizzy from all the exclamation points in the margins — “Free to Learn.”
As it says on the Free to Learn website:
…children today seldom play and explore without adult supervision, and are afforded few opportunities to control their own lives. The result: anxious, unfocused children who see schooling—and life—as a series of hoops to struggle through.
In Free to Learn, developmental psychologist Peter Gray argues that our children, if free to pursue their own interests through play, will not only learn all they need to know, but will do so with energy and passion.
Sounds good, easy and free. And it is. Just let your kids play and you will be amazed at what they come up with and how the skills they develop there spill into everyday life. Focus. Communication. Entrepreneurship (what is creating a new game but getting “buy in” on a new idea?)
So if you’re near Central Park this Saturday, stop by and say hi. And if you’re near your own park — go home already! Just leave your kids there. — L