Strangling Imagination

The summer holiday is one of those difficult times for parents. People have busy lives, work to do. But, the way I see it, children have busy lives too and they need the holiday as a bit of down time.

I reckon being a little ‘un can be tough.

So many parents have to send their children to this afternoon club or that afternoon club. Some children go to these clubs every night after school because Mum and Dad are busy at work. Tennis, football, ballet . . . if you’re a parent, you’ll know the score. And when the summer holiday comes along, there are numerous holiday clubs available for busy parents to send their children to.

I’m not knocking it. Not judging. It’s just the way it is.

I joke that I can’t get much work done during the holidays because I work from home, but really I wouldn’t have it any other way. I like it that my children are at home instead of at a club. And while I understand the need for clubs, and I understand the opportunities and experiences it can give children, I wonder if there’s something missing. And I wonder if it strangles their imagination.

My brother and I used to get up to all sorts and I have lots of good memories. But then, we lived in places without TV and in the days when ‘clubs’ meant cubs or scouts. Yesterday, though, I was watching my two playing together in the garden. They giggled. They fought. They shouted at each other. They made friends again. They invented games. They . . . well, they did whatever they liked. Admittedly, they were constrained to the garden rather than allowed to roam further – we live in the city and roaming probably isn’t a great idea for a five year old – but they were imagining. They were making their own entertainment rather than watching TV or playing computer games or being told what to do, and it was great to see.

I understand the benefits of clubs, but as long as the children are instructed, they’re not making their own decisions. If they’re being told where to stand, how to kick a ball, what game to play, how to play the game, then they’re not using their imaginations.

That said, my son did keep running in to ask if he could check how his Smurfs village was doing on the iPad.

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