I think it is interesting that outdoor play went out of fashion for a while with the introduction of the video games, cell phones and the internet. It seems that the resulting increase in childhood obesity has brought to light that old school outdoor play was far more important than anyone really thought. Although with the increased dangers out there to children and the change in how neighborhoods operate such as schools are within easy walking distance for most it is easy to see how outdoor play became less popular in recent years.
I know from the perspective of many parents that I know that have young children that all day kindergarten comes as a relief to their wallets but I do wonder how less time spent with family is affecting the children of today.
My thoughts were:
You are so very right!
When I worked in afterschool care, I would always remind the eager 'extend education and homework' parents that the after school time their children spent in after school care, was the time when I or our generation were outside riding bikes, playing kick the can or road soccer. We rode bikes or walked to our friends place and played in their backyard, before we moved onto a different friend's yard. We went down to the creek or the park and played baseball.
I hated to see that go in children's lives so always had plenty of 'nothing to do' time scheduled for outside play with my group. Mind you I was also horrified at how many children couldn't 'find anything to do' when outside or at the park. They literally ambled around in circles, jumped on and off the climber then came back to me to declared that they were 'bored!" Our staff had to go back to teaching our group skipping songs, hopscotch, and jaxs. We also had to teach them to play pogs and marbles and how to make sounds from a blade of grass. We ended up using duct tape to make four square lines on the concrete when we ran out of side walk chalk so we could teach to play four square.
I think as long as afterschool programs keep all this in mind when programming for children, then full day kindergarten, followed by afterschool care can work beautifully. It's all about balance I think.
This exchange really reminded me how much ECE'S should always be prepared to offer their thoughts on child care.