Sunday, September 11, 2011

Games We Used to Play

Every generation says the generation before is different - and this isn't usually meant in a good way. The older generation complains that the newer one doesn't have the same work ethic, doesn't have the same respect for elders, and so on. Now, whether that is true, I can't say, but I do know that the children of today, in North American society, often do not have the same opportunities for free play that we did. This, to me, means they are missing out on something vital, something important in their development.

When we played for hours with our friends, without adult supervision, while we were having fun, we also had to make rules, enforce rules, mediate problems, and sometimes learn to deal with things that just weren't fair. These are all tools that we took with us into adulthood. Was it fair to always be picked last for a team? No, of course not. Is it fair when the child with the ball takes it home because he feels that he wasn't being treated with enough respect? Again, of course not. But much of this was negated by the fun of playing hours long games of tag and hide-and-seek, without being told to be careful, watch what you're doing....

There is a lot of research going on into the importance of free play and it is quite interesting. To encourage discussion of the subject, I have started a website called Games We Used to Play: A Hop, Skip and Jump Down Memory Lane.

The goal of the site is to gather as many stories of games from across the world as we can. One person from one country may post they played a certain game one way, but someone else may recognize it as a game they called a different name and they played with slightly different rules. I am also adding articles about different issues about free play and I encourage people to comment on them, to add their point of view.

Games We Used to Play also has a Facebook page, where we can share more information, and we are on Twitter, at @gamesweusedtopl.