Today whilst browsing Stuff.co.nz I came across the headline "Australian primary school bans cartwheels' - after some initial relief that it was an Australian School and not a New Zealand school, and having to check it wasn't a belated April Fools joke, I started thinking about the long term effects of banning children from doing cartwheels and handstands. The school claimed that cartwheels and handstands were 'too dangerous' and several children per day were injuring their wrists.
Now let me deviate from cartwheels and handstands for a minute.....
Children learn the most through play; they learn many life skills including communication, acceptable social behaviours, conflict resolution, sharing, turn taking and more. Children, through play, also learn to set goals, work hard, deal with failure and hopefully celebrate in success too. If you think of the toddler at the bottom of the slide desperate to get to the top and slide down they have two choices, to either walk away because they don't know how to climb the ladder or they can set the goal of climbing the ladder. They are required to develop co-ordination, strength and balance to climb the ladder as well as courage and self-confidence to make it to the top. They may not make it on the first attempt, they may fall and hurt themselves and they might need to try again; enter the lessons of practice and perseverance. Eventually though with determination, support and practice they will get to the top and they will be able to slide down the slide with pride. They've achieved a goal they set for themselves, they've got stronger, more co-ordinated and their balance is better. On top of that they have given their confidence and self-esteem a huge boost and they are going to feel proud of themselves for their achievement. Next time they are faced with a challenge they will be more likely to set a new goal and work towards achieving it.
Now back to cartwheels and handstands...
The simple act of doing a cartwheel or handstand can be compared to the toddler and the slide. The child must set their goal and work hard to achieve it. Successfully cartwheeling or doing a handstand, like climbing a ladder, requires the child to develop strength, coordination and balance whilst at the same time teaching them about their own personal physical capabilities and limits. They are required to show perseverance, determination and commitment and eventually, just like climbing the slide ladder they will achieve their goal and get the warm fuzzies of achievement and pride.
Now what I can't figure out is why anyone would want to deny a child those valuable lessons? Yes, the child may sprain a wrist, but wrists get better and hopefully the incorrect technique that caused the sprain will not be repeated.... lesson learnt yeah?!?
Our children are so protected these days and a 2019 'childhood' certainly does not resemble my own, but are we taking it too far? Are our kids becoming 'cotton wool kids?" I fear that without the freedom to just 'be kids' we are going to end up with a world full of adults who are less determined, poor goal setters, unconfident and more.
Let the kids play, let the kids be kids...
Take care and best wishes
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