Children's Play Culture: Will the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic Change the Way Kids Play? by Mike Prochaska

Opinion
4 months ago
Children's Play Culture: Will the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic Change the Way Kids Play?

For my homework for Pop-Up Adventure Play to become a playworker, I had to read an article about children’s play culture and reflect on what our play culture is. Between parenting and working with kids all day, it’s crazy busy, so I’ve never thought about reflecting about this.

We live in a neighborhood with cul-de-sac, or the “circle” as my children call it. This is my children’s play culture. It’s crazy that I didn’t realize this until now – my kids do have a place to create their own play culture.

Play culture is a place kids go to play outside without adults bothering them. Here, they make up their own games, use their imaginations and have free play. I totally could relate with a part of the article that said adults supervise kids too much. I always try to let my kids have free play without hovering over them. Sometimes our neighbor complains that I let them play unsupervised in the circle, and I always have to tell her they are all right just playing with their friends.

It’s funny because when I do go check on them, they always say that they are "doing nothing," so I will leave them alone. But this is the way my children are building a culture with each other – creating their own games and telling each other stories. It is amazing to watch, because they always think of new games and things I would have never thought of.

As a kid, my play culture was the forest preserve behind my house. We would spend hours in the woods riding bikes and building forts. 

My question is: How are we going to protect children’s play cultures and environments in the future? This coronavirus is making it even harder now to protect children’s environments and play culture.

Will parents let their children back outside when this all over? 

Will children be back exploring the world on their own?

I know mine will and still are, but I make that a priority because to me the fear of my children losing their play culture is scarier than any virus. I just make sure now my kids play outside away from other people. I pray that when this all over, there are kids exploring their play cultures again.

Please leave a comment below about your children's play culture. I want to know where everyone plays! 

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Donna John
Growing up, we spent our time exploring the neighborhood on our bikes. We had a bayou running alongside our neighborhood, so spending time wandering down, through and around the bayou was an almost everyday happening. If the water was too high for us to cross, we would build a bridge with boards, old tires, whatever, to get across. We'd pick flowers, catch tadpoles, crawfish, etc., never afraid of accidentally finding a snake. :-) Or we'd just sit and talk, chew gum and think we were so cool being there without our parents. So I guess the bayou was part of my play culture.
Elisa A. Schmitz 30Seconds
What a great perspective, Mike Prochaska . Like Donna John , my play culture was the neighborhood kids and the stuff we could get into on our skateboards or bikes. We were always out and about, from after school until dark. None of us worried about much, and neither did our parents. What an amazing change today, when parents worry about so much, and so do their kids. Now with the pandemic, there's even more to worry about. Let's hope things can get back to some kind of "new" normal where kids can be kids again. We can figure it out and make it work.
Mike Prochaska
It already Happening. At least where we live. Just tell kids to be careful and try and get them to stay 6 feet away from
Each.
Gwen Johnson
We had a park right across the street from our house, so I guess that was my play culture. We practically lived there.

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