I officially declare it…
Break the Rules Week
Why? Because it is October already.
Why? Because kids have already been strapped to desks and other structured activities for a month and you can see the grind beginning to wear on them already. Their goofy, playful spirits are starting to look a little less so… goofy and playful.
So, let’s break our kids free and let them break a few rules.
What? Jean, are you NUTS?
Yup. A little bit. Add sprinkles and ice cream.
But here’s the scoop. (Ha, ha!) Kids need to play. Freely. They need to experiment with life. They need to learn failure on their own terms when the stakes are low and in situations where they can fix it themselves. They need to figure out why some rules are unbreakable and why some are there for everyone’s sake and why some rules are there because Mom and Dad are just plain cranky about putting their hand on half-dried toothpaste in the middle of the night.
And how do you do this? By letting them enjoy a little anarchy.
So, to learn the rules… and respect the rules… sometimes kids need to break them.
As well there is some developmental value in breaking the rules.
The Value of UNstructured Play
When we were kids we engaged in a lot unstructured play without realizing what it was or why it was important. Basically, unstructured play was when we ran around like crazy looking for something to do and that something–whatever it was–had rules and regulations built by us (and our playmates) and lasted for however long we had or wanted it to. That stuff. Yeahhhhh. That’s unstructured play, and it taught us a lot about life.
Why is unstructured play important for kids?
Unstructured play allows kids to play at their own pace, follow their own interests as well as learn a great deal about their world and how they fit into it. They learn how to get along with others (e.g. conflict resolution, communication skills, compromise, and self control) as well as how to create their own rules of play. They learn how to change the rules (how to play baseball with only four players), why the rules need to be there (so Johnny doesn’t spend all day trying to hit the ball while everyone dies of boredom), and that some rules may not apply in some conditions or to some players (maybe Johnny can have five strikes instead of three until he gets better).
These days the average child spends a lot less time engaging in free play and are missing out on some of these life lesson learning situations.
But we can help them learn some of these in the home learning environment* by breaking a few rules–for fun. No lectures or life lessons need to be spent by parents if the kids get it by experiencing it. (Kids often learn best by learning and experimenting and living something in a very hands on way.)
So, go have fun!
I’ll post a few things on the blog this week as inspiration, but in the meantime think about a few rules you have. What rules can be safely broken?
You might find some of your rules can be tossed out–kids can sock us a few surprises sometimes! (Rules holding them back? I know! Crazy, but it could happen.) While other broken rules might have the kids begging to have them reinstated ASAP. (Especially if you start breaking those rules right along with them!)
What rules are you going to break? (My daughter wants to jump on the beds, boot her brother out of her room (permanently, I think), kick the house (??), run in the house, yell in the house, and generally be an out-of-control hooligan. Sounds good. And what will she learn? I bet you can already guess.)
* Another good way to let kids learn is to send them outside to play with their friends more often–somewhere where we can’t interfere and solve all their problems for them.
— Jean Oram (@KidsPlay) October 2, 2012