When I report on our Character Education Assemblies, I don’t usually repeat all of what Marie said or shared with the children. This month seemed different though, like it would be a good idea to give you a window into what we talked about. Resourcefulness in children is fast becoming a lost art, as they become accustomed to entertainment on tap, constant programming and ubiquidous technology, and as parents and educators, we are fighting a very tricky battle. Marie thought the best way to communicate her feelings on this important subject was to describe her childhood growing up at a time when none of these things factored into a child’s life, in the hopes that it would ignite a little spark within each child to see things differently. Marie acted out the games she played as she talked to the kids and they loved it!
When I was a young girl, and it was summer break time, I would get up in the morning, have my breakfast and then my Mom and Dad would send me outside to play. Unless the weather was really bad, they didn’t expect to see me back home until lunch time. After lunch, the same thing happened until dinner time and then guess what? After dinner, I would be sent out to play again until the lights came on. When it would start to get dark, the street lights would come on and that was my signal to get home fast! And I wasn’t the only one on my street who lived our summer days like this. Lots and lots of kids had the same routine. I am going to ask you now, what do you think my friends and I did all day? Give me some ideas. Remember no computers and really not many toys or games!
I did have a bike that I used but I wasn’t allowed to venture very far away so after awhile riding around the block or the schoolyard across the road got a little, dare I say, ‘boring’! Blankets to make tents, boxes to make forts, dolls to “teach” or younger children in the neighbourhood to play school with. Balls to throw against the brick of the house with lots of songs and chants. Skipping rope if we were lucky, but if not we made jump ropes out of elastics. We put balls in socks or tights and used them to play games against the wall of the house or the school. We went through catalogues and decided what we would like to buy if we had lots of money! We took turns picking one thing at a time on each page.
All of these simple activities built up our resourcefulness. Our parents didn’t tell us what or how to play and they didn’t even supervise our play. Can you imagine? We were always thinking up new things to keep amused all day long. While we found new things to do we were gaining skills in planning, organizing, decision-making and problem solving. These were the building blocks of the resourcefulness that we ended up having as adults.
I know that things have changed a lot since I was a little girl but I want you all to think about some times that you could be more independent with how you spend your free time, whether it’s at home or at school. I know that your parents won’t just send you out to play for an entire day without knowing exactly where you are and your teachers won’t leave you alone in the classrooms or playground, but sometimes why don’t you just pretend that they are not there and you have to come up with your own ideas to keep busy? The adults in your life are working so hard to make your lives safe, convenient and happy but sometimes the more resources we have, the less resourceful we become. So start thinking for yourselves, get creative, don’t depend on “stuff” all the time. It will help you so much to become creators of your own future!