I believe that those boys who take part in rough, hard play outside of school will not find any need for horse-play in school.
There is so much talk about there being more children with diagnoses and "problem" children who can not sit and focus on their school work - and a whole variety of suggestions have been made as to why this is the case - including class size, standardised testing, not enough play/learning through play in school etc etc
What if children are not playing enough outside of school/preschool? Could this be having an impact on what they are doing in school?
Children's days have got longer - often both parents are working so children are required to stay in preschool for longer days or go to after school care. When do they have the time to play freely with their friends?
I remember in my childhood that we would play on the back fields together after school, without adults (in the back garden when we were younger - although my mother still did not participate - she stayed indoors with a window open - listening...). I remember playing in ditches and making mud-pies, making channels like a snake in the long grass, making skiddy patches on the ice, building obstacle courses, dens and pretending to be a show-jumping horse devising all sorts of jumps with brooms and buckets and anything else we could get our hands on. We had free range of a whole neighbourhood. We played, we imagined, we interacted with each other.
Then in school we could sit and listen easier... our bodies satisfied with play, and with the knowledge that we would play again later on after school.
Do we trust neighbourhoods now to allow our children to explore? Do our children get the freedom that I once had, and many others had in our own childhoods...?
Does giving homework to children shorten further their chances to play?
Is society really more dangerous? Or have we become more afraid? Why?
I live centrally in Stockholm - free range, the way I experienced it, has not happened for my children - I have my own fears - but also where are the other children? Are they all at extra-curricular activities? Organised play by adults. Its always play-dates supervised by parents, not the freedom of play I had as a child.
I am happy that we have a small house in the woods just outside the city - where my children can play freely, explore, imagine, interact. We take friends out there so their interactions are not confined to siblings... Pockets of abandon.
Are we institutionalising childhood? Are we re-defining play? Or are the adults hijacking play?
If children had more freedom to play - and I mean play in its truest form, would it be easier for them to concentrate in school? Was Theodore Roosevelt right? (although it should not be reserved for just boys!!!). Would there be a reduction in diagnoses and "problem" children?
I do not believe in problem children - only in problem situations. We as teachers and parents need to address the situation - what can WE do to change the situation - then try that, reflect, adjust and try again until the situation improves...