I can hear the voice in my head, yelling across the play ground;
“Put the stick down!
It’s not safe, you’ll poke someone’s eye out!
Put it down!”
If the voice didn’t belong to me it was someone I was working with or another parent.
A small child waving a stick around seems to make even the bravest of us suddenly see visions of disaster. A ‘no playing with sticks’ policy seems to be the easiest way to avoid the scenario where one child’s eye balls is somehow skewered onto the end of another child’s stick.
But there is something about sticks that just draw children to them.
If there is a big stick in a paddock of long grass, my kids will find it. Then they’ll fight over who gets to play with it. The stick becomes a fishing rod, a sword, a light sabre, a wand, and monsters giant arm with clawed fingers on the end…. And while I am wincing at the thought of all those possible injuries my kids are busy playing, imagining, problem solving, working together and learning.
So I’m taking a deep breath, I’m putting on my big girl undies and being brave about this.
Yep, I am going to let my kids play with sticks.
Sure, there will be some limits. I don’t think even I am ready for lots of big sticks with lots of children in a small space…. but outside, with lots of space, and a bit of supervision and explanation? I’m willing to deal with the consequences and let my children take a few risks for the sake of learning and sheer enjoyment!
On Sunday morning, in some glorious winter sunshine, we went for a walk ‘up the back’.
Up the back, under the big trees there are lots and lots of sticks. Some of them are HUGE branches fallen from the sugar gums during recent storms. Some of the branches have been chopped up ready to be stacked as fire wood. Some sticks still have green leaves on them and some are as long as we are tall. It is stick heaven ‘up the back’ under the big trees, and I let my kids really enjoy it.
They had sword fights, made fairy houses, spent time stacking fire wood for Daddy, tried to use a big stick like a pole vault. I even let them run around like crazy people, sticks in hand. It was good fun!
Then we collected a basket full of sticks and carried them back to the shed… but more on that next week.
Do you let your kids play with sticks?
Do you let your kids take some risks in the name of learning or fun?