What is our responsibility concerning play these days? Society has changed so much over the past decade even. Some of us don’t have kids, have a double income and spend our time looking for the next snow hill or lake to ski on, so we are responsible only for ourselves. Others of us are single parents in charge of rearing several children alone and making an income worthy to keep all in sneakers and a square meal. Then there are some of us who are married, holding down a job, rearing our 2.5 children, keeping up with soccer and dance lessons and keeping house in between. You get the picture as to the different extremes our lives can have.
Whatever track we are on, there is one thing that should be a constant, and that’s making time for play. In addition to that, there are some responsibilities that are still ours even though we send the kids off to school each day to receive their education.
If you think about it, we really are in partnership with our children’s teachers to help raise responsible, educated, healthy children. It’s not really the teacher’s job to instill moral values in our children, but if you have visited the classroom, you’ll find that they still try to a certain point. What I mean is that when they teach your child that homework is due on Tuesday, and Joey doesn’t turn it in, he gets an “F” to teach him to make the choice to meet his deadline and to help motivate him to engage in the class and succeed. If Joey decides to cheat on the test, he’ll get an “F” and further reprimand to teach him that there are consequences for the wrong choice, and hopefully, he just learns it’s easier just to study the material and learn.
All the things children learn at home and in the classroom become a part of who they become. They will still make decisions, but if they are being taught that it’s wrong to steal, cheat and lie, it does enter their thought process when making decisions, whether that is for a fleeting moment or whether they choose to do what they have been taught. And guess where all this goes when they run out the door to play on the playground…with them. It stays right with them wherever they go.
Take the teenagers who decide it’s cool, fun, risky and thrilling to pour an accelerant around a playground and start it on fire just to see that ring of flame destroy what could be a great source of joy for someone else. Is that why they do it? It’s hard to say the exact reason. We don’t know where the parents are when this happens and how involved they are with these kids…how involved they ever have been with them. We just don’t know.
Maybe the moral dialogue isn’t happening and the parents or guardians assume that because their kids are in school each day, they are learning all the life lessons they need to and will just magically become productive members of society as adults. It’s not likely they will if this is the scenario unless maybe they are lucky enough to have a teacher who really does have the time to go the extra mile for them.
Maybe it’s just a rebellious kid doing these things. The bottom line seems this though: Children need someone to actively teach them moral values so that when they do go out to play, on whatever level, they are armed with the information to make the right choices.