Friday, January 28, 2011

Book Club: Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child : Don't Leave them to Themselves

Completely random, incoherent thoughts ...


OK, so I actually had the whole chapter read by Sunday this time, and here I am finally posting on Friday.  That homeschooling thing is taking so much time!


All that outside time I posted about before, yeah, unsupervised.

So, maybe its OK I don't like outside, Brandy.  I'm not supposed to be there anyway [grin]


I think what I take away from this chapter is to not overschedule our children and then to not direct their free time.  I feel like a rebel again with soccer and baseball and gym classes and choir and piano lessons.  But, then I think these are not bad things in and of themselves; they can be bad if they're all your children do.  My children have the opportunity for unstructured time everyday. 


I'm thinking about the big gang of kid games; kids gathering for games not initiated by adults and am wondering how, in our society, that could possibly work.  Children, for the most part, don't seem to be home during the day ... those school bus rides and long school days are only added to by going to daycare until mom or dad can come pick them up.  Then, they have a little dinner, a little family time, a little ...

Or maybe I'm not outside enough to see the playing.  Whenever we do go out to bike, play or walk, I see an occasional other adult, but very few children.  I was recently surprised on a snow day to see a dad pulling a child on a sled down the sidewalk on the next street over.  A child maybe my children's age. 

Our children generally play in the backyard (low fence, dogs, no cars) when playing by themselves or ride bikes and play chalks out front when an adult can be with them.  How old do children have to be to play in the front unsupervised?  Even then, I don't really want them crossing streets or going to far while they're so young.   But that seems to defeat the playing outside.  [sigh]


One of these days, I wish an author would not use such incendiary language as "Tormentoria" in  their writing.  I have many family and friends who work in public schools, who love children and are truly trying to do their best for them with the skills they have and have been taught, but who would be completely offended by such writing and would be completely turned off to the important messages in the book.


  1. Yeah, I didn't like the whole Tormentoria thing either. He got a bit too sarcastic there.

    We're the same with regards to playing outside: "unsupervised" (I'm checking them out the window:) ) in the backyard and supervised in the front. Well, we've let A and D play out front if we're watching from the living room, but no way E could be out there without us yet - he still doesn't have enough street sense.

    I hardly ever see kids out around here this winter. I don't think I've seen the two 2 year olds next door out since maybe late Nov. or early Dec. They do have a 7-8 month old baby, which may have something to do with that, but I keep thinking "They'd have so much fun in the snow!." :)

  2. See?? I knew you were fine. ;)

    I agree with you that this chapter would be a major turnoff to people in the childrearing industry. I wonder if he could really win any converts with it? I think he's at his best when he's quoting literature rather than using lame literary devices.

  3. I'll just comment on playing outside alone, Dawn. :-) We live in a subdivision a bit off the main roads and my three older children are almost-10, 8.5, and 6.5. I've let them play outside alone for the past couple of years as long as there are two of them together. Though I would allow my oldest (ds) to be outside on his own now.

    If we still lived in inner-city St. Louis, the answer would be much different. I'm thankful I can let them roam a bit, even if just up the block and back.

    When I was 10 I could ride my bike from one part of our small town to the other. To the pool, library, parks, drug store, etc.

    We do a few activities too: music lessons, basketball, sewing lessons. But I think Esolen is coming from the assumption that most children are already in school all day and then to add overscheduling and extra lessons on top of that or fill the weekend or summers with a full schedule leaves children with no time to contemplate and play. Homeschoolers just don't fit that picture, well they could I guess, it comes down to balance I suppose.

  4. Thanks, Jami. I think you're right. I'm glad that I'm not being overprotective of my 6, 5 and 3.5 year olds :)

  5. Our weekly playgroup, which meets at a park when the weather is nice, or split up to meet at homes when the weather isn't (we have over 25 kids 7 & under between us 6 moms now, too much for one house). The moms chat and the kids do their own thing -- play Little House (my 5yos always wants to be the panther), play battle, play trains, play Hide & Seek. At the park, with 12 mommy eyes, we generally let them have the run of the open area and don't interfere. They rarely play with the equipment. We get looks from other moms who are always right next to their kids, but it's "masterly inactivity" on our part. And, part of the reason we can do it now is that when they all are little, they played in the same room and we trained those oldests how to play together. Unattended play is the payoff (for them & us) of years of supervised and training-ground play.

    One thing that was brought home to me a couple weeks ago was that I need to allow for babysteps toward being able to handle freedom and adventure. A friend's college daughter got stuck in Atlanta on her way back to college, and she was on the phone all day smoothing out the paths and double-checking everything. I was married at this daughter's age and this daughter is very responsible. At some point we do have to let them handle life, and it'll probably be easier if it starts when they're 10 & 12 and letting them go a mile or so to the gas station or library.

  6. I let the older 2 in the back "unsupervised" (as in I can see or hear them), but, not in the front, and, of course, I go out if J. is out, too. I wonder if we're overscheduled sometimes, too (i.e. co-op, choir, and soccer for D., one-day-a-week preschool, library, and soccer for P.), but they don't seem overwhelmed. In fact, they seem to like it--I think perhaps I'M the one who's overscheduled!

  7. The point Brandy makes about siblings reminds me of one of my main parenting tricks: Always make sure there are two. That way you always get the whole story or at least more of the story. It really, really aids accountability to have children go places together and to play in the neighborhood together. This is another example, like Debra mentioning the lack of parents at home, where cultural trends can damage children. Less children means less family accountability.

    I know that sounds a little over the top and my nephew is an only child and quite a great kid but I think there is something to be said for having a sibling looking over your shoulder.


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