Wondering why so many people are wearing eye patches today? Or have parrots on their shoulders? Or have taken to growling Arrrgh! at unusual moments?
It’s because today is National Talk Like a Pirate Day!
Drag out your old copy of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island and read it aloud to your children. Point out the author’s phrases that stand the test of time–“Yo ho ho, and a bottle of rum!”—is one that comes to mind.
My older daughter Jessica loved playing with Legos when she was young and her favorite was the Lego pirate ship. Too pricey for our budget, we discovered her friend Alex owned it. Their play dates became pirate ship dates that were never long enough for them to finish a story.
Pirate toys and stories spark a child’s imagination. When you see children play with a pirate ship toy, you’ll hear them spin unbelievable stories, some which have recurring themes, particular characters, and amazing plots. This is the sound of brain development!
Forget the “put away the toys” and let them leave the Lego or shoebox pirate ship out. Children return to continue their imaginative play when their creations are out and ready to go.
I read both of my daughters and all of my students plenty of gory, bloody, scary stories. They thrill children and sharpen listening skills, critical thinking, the creative imagination, and the development of self-regulation skills. (Watching scary, bloody, gory TV or playing video games loaded with violence do not do any of that.)
When you pick your children up at day care today or meet them after sports practice, give them an “Arrrgh!” to have fun and to celebrate the day.
One of childhood’s pleasures is endangered. Swings are beginning to disappear from school and public playgrounds, mostly because adults worry about student injuries and lawsuits. As someone who has spent thousands of hours supervising recess, I prefer teaching children how to follow a few simple rules so they can enjoy the benefits of swinging while supervised. It’s worth this effort when you think about what children learn while gliding through fresh air.
First, they have to take turns because there are never enough swings to go around. The unspoken etiquette on playgrounds is universal: first come, first served, but don’t hog it. A child has to be fair about the amount of time spent swinging, and there are no better timekeepers than other children waiting for their turn. Already these lessons encompass enjoyment and sharing, patience and restraint, manners and learning to negotiate!
Sets of swings create the perfect laboratory to study the social and emotional development of children while they are happy and autonomous. Children talk, chant, sing, laugh, and get out of breath as they stretch, lean, and pump. I’ve noticed that children’s moods lift when they swing, too. There’s nothing like twirling yourself into dizziness and silliness to feel good and have fun.
Finally, swings teach children what freedom feels like. The wind slaps their cheeks and tousles their hair. They sail up to get a good view of their world and they learn that the harder they pump, they higher they can sail. Teachers know that observations of children at play reveal much about their growth, especially when children play without adult interruptions.
At home, if your swings are gone because you think your children are too old, put one back up and wait. You’ll be surprised to see who rediscovers them.