Hi Folks: Welcome to the first after-school class that lets kids play outside, together, unsupervised — the greatest developmental boon a parent can give a child!
Our first session is Weds., Sept 12. Ages 8-18 welcome. We’ll meet at the entrance to the “Ancient Playground” in Central Park, at 85th St. and Fifth Ave., at 3:45 p.m. I’ll be there to say hi — then I’m off to sip my latte. Kids can be picked up at 5:15, or they can head home on their own — it’s up to you. (And them!) If your child owns a watch, have him/her wear it. Otherwise, the kids can ask folks what time it is. While many people think that children being someplace with “strangers all around” is dangerous, actually it means there are people all around who can help if anything goes wrong. Central Park is the safest precinct in New York, which is the safest large city in the country.
Parents must sign a waiver that absolves me of anything and everything — see the name of this class! — and payment is $350 (cash or check; scholarships available for the asking) for 8 sessions: Weds. Sept 12 – Nov. 7, with a week “off” on Sept 26 for Yom Kipur. On Weds., Oct. 31 kids can play as usual, or they can go trick or treat together.
Why a fee? Well, why not? I’d love to make a living bringing kids back outside to play. But also: Parents are used to paying for classes. Pay for something and you put it on your calendar. It’s a commitment. And when you pay, you expect to get something in return.
Your children will — and so will you.
The whole idea of this “class” is for kids to have a chance to do what we did: Play, on their own. This is not only fun, it’s formative — especially when it’s a bunch of children of different ages — because play is Mother Nature’s super vitamin. She made it the default mode for children so they’d do a lot of it, and it’s only in the past couple of decades that we replaced it with constant classes, coaching and computer time. Today’s kids spend an average of more than 7 hours a day on “entertainment media,” according to a Kaiser Family Foundation study. In a typical week, only 6% of children ages 9-13 play outside on their own. Isn’t that a little shocking?
Now, my kids spend their fare share of time online and do some extra-curriculars, too. Nothing wrong with any of those. But there is something uniquely right about free play. As Harvard psychologist Susan Linn puts it:
…play is the foundation of intellectual exploration. It’s how children learn how to learn. Abilities essential for academic success and productivity in the workforce, such as problem solving, reasoning, and literacy, all develop through various kinds of play, as do social skills such as cooperation and sharing.
Play also boosts leadership. Focus. And friendship. I could add a bunch more great things it does, but all you really have to do is remember some of the best times you had when you were a kid. Chances are you weren’t at Kumon.
So here’s a chance for kids to meet up with other kids and actually, finally, DO SOMETHING ON THEIR OWN without an adult encouraging, nagging, watching, “helping.” What a relief for all concerned!
If you would like to hear more about the class, leave a note below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hope to see you soon – and then to not see you!