parents

EM: Is this the most ridiculous playground rule ever?

Em Rusciano with her daughters.

I am despairing at what is happening in our primary schools and you should be too.

Are you even aware of the playground policies in force at your kids’ school? Ask them, they’ll know. I wasn’t until this week, and what I found out has both shocked and pissed me off in equal proportions.

I sat in on my 7-year-old’s school assembly this week. She is in grade two, so it is still pretty cool to have your mum hanging around just generally being awesome. (Shut up, it is!) I like to sit down on the floor with the kids and gently corrupt them (make fart noises with my shoes, crack gags etc) as the assembly drones on. Because they always do, drone on.

The usual stuff was occurring — kids getting spelling awards, don’t litter, blah, blah, blah. Then the principal got up and announced that from this week onwards red flags would be stuck on the play equipment when the school deemed it too wet to play. Every morning, a teacher would walk around and physically stick a red flag on the swings and slides if they were wet so the students knew not to have any fun whatsoever on them.

WHAT THE WHAT NOW BOSS LADY?!

The sandpit would also be getting the flag treatment if it was wet, because you know- wet sand it just so dangerous. No, she actually said “We don’t want to have to call your Mum and Dad to say you have wet and dirty pants.”

Do you know what? Let them be wet! Let them be dirty!

If I actually got that call I would laugh manically, yell “suck it up” loud enough for my child to hear and then aggressively press end call on my iPhone.

Plus, I pack spare leggings and undies in her bag anyway. So she can take some responsibility for herself should she need to. I know – what a revolutionary idea.

Can we please keep this a (relatively) rule-free zone? Please?

Back to the flag situation.

I couldn’t believe it: I looked around the room expecting a riot from the other parents.

Nothing.

So I looked to my fellow floor comrades – the grade twos. They looked beaten down, sad and resigned to the regime. Poor little bastards. I decided to do some further investigation, I asked my kid what other rules were in place in the playground? She told me you are not allowed to run in certain areas, there are rostered days on and off for the oval, they have to eat all their food inside and the grade Prep 1-2s are not allowed on the basketball courts full stop.

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So no playing on the play equipment anywhere if it has been raining, same goes for the sandpit. You can’t eat where you want and there is to be no running or ball games for the small people. Plus, you can’t go on to the oval unless it’s your day?! So what the FUCK is my kid doing with herself at recess and lunch time? Sitting down quietly discussing world events?

Don’t the teachers need a break from all this policing of the rules?! Don’t the kids need to get out and burn off energy so that they can sit down and learn stuff in the classroom? By the way, kids also do the MAJORITY of their learning through their bodies. Shut down movement possibilities and we are shutting down their learning potential and FUN. FAAAAARKKKK.

Is this what we want for kids?

Mate, when I was at school we would do death drops from the monkey bars that were positioned above concrete! I’m not advocating your kids drop from a great height onto a hard surface but you guys, something has to change.

Of course we all want our kids to be safe, happy and okay – I just feel we have gone too far the other way in protecting them and I also feel schools have become more about avoiding litigation and management and less about exploration and learning.

I am not blaming the school for this entirely; I am guessing in part they are reacting to some parents complaining and the over-regulated nanny state we live in.

Why aren’t we spending effort on kids learning wise decisions, risking taking and self responsibility, rather than reactive rules to make them easier to manage?

Also, if you are one of those parents who complain to the school about your child coming home dirty- go now directly to a mirror and take a bloody good hard look at yourself.

I don’t know about you but I want my kids getting out there in the playground and running wild where sometimes- scratches, bruises and scrapes happen. To be brutally honest, I fear we are raising a generation of softcocks, bubble-wrapping our small people out of our own fears.

So in summary, let them play!

By the by, if you hear of a mass flag robbery in a primary school in Melbourne’s north-east, you didn’t see or hear ANYTHING, ya hear me? NOTHING.

Do you think schoolyard rules have gone too far? What rules do your kids have to follow? How do they compare to your days at primary school?