Not FortNITE, folks. Fort DAY. For this second week of Let Grow’s Summer of Independence, we want to see what your kids can create that answers to the description of “fort.”
(For the record, my sister and I made our forts out of blankets. So there is no shame in wimpy fort building.)
The fact that children around the world love fort-making indicates the “fort drive” is pretty primal. After all, once we hominids came down from the trees, we needed shelter. Evolution favored the fort-builder and we’ve been fort-folk ever since. That’s why the Christmas present BOX is always the most attractive toy: We’re hardwired to get building.
What happens when kids build a fort:
In his new book, “Stolen Focus,” author Johann Hari visited some schools doing The Let Grow Project. That’s where students there get the homework assignment, “Go home and do something new, on your own, without your parents.” It’s easy, fun and life-changing. Get your kids’ school to do it!!! But that’s not the point of this paragraph. The point is that one of the students Hari interviewed was a big, strapping 14-year-old boy. And as Hari writes:
“He told me he had always been too frightened of kidnapping to walk into town. He lives in a place where the French bakery is across from the olive-oil store, but he had anxiety levels that would have been appropriate to living in a war zone. The Let Grow Project gave him a taste of independence in small steps. First he did his own laundry. Then, a month later, his parents let him go for a run around the block. Within a year, he had teamed up with his friends and they had built a fort in their local woods, where they now spend a lot of their time hanging out. He told me: ‘We sit there and talk, or we have little competitions. We don’t have our moms. We can’t say, ‘Hey mom — can you get us this?'”–Stolen Focus
As Hari told Ezra Klein in a podcast: “It was like watching a child come to life.”
“Maybe you can build a cool fort like I did.”
So, this week’s challenge is simply to send your kids outside to the lawn, sidewalk, deck or deepest woods, perhaps while offhandedly reminiscing, “Gee, when I was your age, me and my friends built THE coolest fort.”
If you are allowed to see what your kids create, and it looks like it kinda might be a fort, please take a photo and share it on our Facebook page, “Raising Independent Kids.” BUT keep the best one to yourself, because in a few weeks Let Grow will launch its third annual Let Grow Independence Challenge, with real $$$ prizes. So save a good one to send in then.
Meantime, may the forts be with you! And your kids!