First of all, thank you for working with and for kids.
At Let Grow, we believe in kids and want to make sure our culture doesn't keep them back by assuming they are too fragile to do at least as much as we did as kids.
When kids get practice solving problems on their own and learning social skills the time-tested way -- by interacting without constant adult intervention -- great things happen (as well as some bumps).
At the same time, school administrators, pediatricians and social scientists are reporting a rise in depression, diabetes, narcissism, and anxiety, not to mention ADHD. "In a typical American classroom, there are nearly as many diagnosable cases of ADHD as there are of the common cold," the Atlantic reports.
The antidote to many of these issues is to give kids back the very things that have been disappearing from childhood: some independence, responsibility, and time to play.
When kids get a chance to achieve something on their own -- make dinner, walk to school -- their executive function improves. And simply by learning to organize and play a game with friends, they learn the skills that schools most long to see: focus, empathy, and self-control.
As Kim Tabler at the Chance School in Kentucky writes:
Children in school today are less able to regulate their own behavior, make effective decisions about how to use their time, adapt to changing environments, and solve social conflicts appropriately. The long term effects of a decline in these kinds of executive functioning skills cannot be understated. As these children become adolescents and adults who have not been able to practice managing their own behavior and time, their impulsivity and lack of problem-solving skills will have a much more significant effect on their lives and on the world.
At schools across America, Let Grow is helping kids become resilient, responsible, and resourceful with two projects (so far)!
The Let Grow Project: Teachers tell their students to go home and do one thing they feel ready to do on their own -- with their parents permission. The result is often a great leap in confidence and independence (in both generations!). More info.
After School Free-Play: Schools keep their gyms or playgrounds open till dinnertime for free play. Kids build social skills by making their own fun with creativity-boosting "loose parts." The mixed-age play and long stretch of time provide opportunities for social/emotional growth that even recess can't match. More info.
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