Go wiggle your toes in the dirt!

Jeff Utecht has a great post – Turn off the screen and go play!:

” This week we have been celebrating TV Turn Off week at our school, and when your wife is the counselor leading the charge, you set a good example. So for the past couple of nights we have not watched any TV, turned on a computer or participated in any “Screen” activities….

After some meaningful ponderings, Jeff says something that resonates with me:

We can’t ignore that technology exist for this generation; what we need to do and learn is to balance the use of technology with good old fashion play. Maybe preschool students don’t need to watch a movie every day, or a 2nd grader doesn’t need a Gameboy. How do these activities help foster growth in students? Sure a Gameboy is great when you are traveling. It will keep a kid occupied for hours, but do they need to play it for hours when they get home from school?

I agree totally! I live in the country for a reason. Although I did very well academically throughout my life, it is creativity that has always served me well and prospered me in most every career.

I do not attribute the creativity of myself and my siblings, one of which is a graphic designer at Disney, to our brilliance — for indeed we are NOT brilliant. (Though the Apprentice fellow is a MENSA member, none of us are.)

Any succees we have, is rather partly attributable to what I call the “Wiggle your toes in the dirt” factor.

I believe it is important to get out of the house and “do stuff.” My favorite “stuff” is family time, fishing, running, frisbee, playing with the dogs, reading, talking, telling jokes, riding the Mule (a golf cart like contraption) through the farm, working on the farm, cooking, ping pong, taking pictures, pulling a weed or two and just “doing nothing” outside. Sometimes I just lay on the slide and look at the clouds or swing a little.

These are the intangiable things that I believe are ESSENTIAL to the growth of my own children as well as my own happiness.

Do you know what puts me in a good mood at this moment? The smell of jasmine that covers my entire yard. If I need a lift, I go outside and inhale that dreamy perfume.

I've enjoyed looking at the clouds lately. They have been beautiful and white and fluffy.

The other day it was pouring down rain and I let my two well children go play in it (My daughter just had a tonsilectomy) and jump in mud puddles until they were as brown as the bird dog!

Life is so full of wonder and beauty. It is also full of amazing gadgets and toys. But it is in the diversity of things that I become ME and kids become above average.

For me, it is when I wiggle my toes in the dirt that the cobwebs in my brain disengage on the breeze.

Jeff goes on to quote The TV Turn Off Network which has created a Facts and Figures about TV habits:

Average number of hours per week that American one year-old children watch television: 6
Number of hours recommended by the American Pediatric Association for children two and under: 0

Average time per week that the American child ages 2-17 spends watching television: 19 hours, 40 minutes
Hours of TV watching per week shown to negatively affect academic achievement: 10 or more

Hours per year the average American youth spends in school: 900
Hours per year the average American youth watches television: 1,023

So, get away from the TV, the laptop, the gadget and spend some time like Jeff does and many other greats outside doing “nothing.” Perhaps why some of the blogging greats like Jeff and Kathy Sierra are so great is that they push their rolling chair away from the keyboard and get a little “non-screen time.”

Can you?

Even more so, can you do that for the children in your sphere of influence?

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Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis is a full-time classroom teacher and IT Director in Georgia, USA. She is Mom of three, wife of one, and loves talking about the wise, transformational use of technology for teaching and doing good in the world. She hosts the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast which interviews teachers around the world about remarkable classroom practices to inspire and help teachers. Vicki focuses on what unites us -- a quest for truly remarkable life-changing teaching and learning. The goal of her work is to provide actionable, encouraging, relevant ideas for teachers that are grounded in the truth and shared with love. Vicki has been teaching since 2002 and blogging since 2005. Vicki has spoken around the world to inspire and help teachers reach their students. She is passionate about helping every child find purpose, passion, and meaning in life with a lifelong commitment to the joy and responsibility of learning. If you talk to Vicki for very long, she will encourage you to "Relate to Educate" or "innovate like a turtle" or to be "a remarkable teacher." She loves to talk to teachers who love their students and are trying to do their best. Twitter is her favorite place to share and she loves to make homemade sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls and enjoys running half marathons with her sisters. You can usually find her laughing with her students or digging into a book.

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A Change Activist April 27, 2006 - 3:15 am

Vicki —

Great post! Last month I posted some comments about an article that ran in Time magazine about the plugged-in generation.

Here is one of the suggestions for parents that was listed in the article:

“4) Don’t be a screen-sucker. Monitor your own online behavior and television viewing. A major reason for the disappearance of the human moment in families is the parents’ — not just the kids’ — addiction to screens.”

So true.

Derek May 1, 2006 - 2:36 am

I agree with the playing outside, and go for the most unstructured activities possible. Had this little disagreement with my wife about that last summer and so we ended up with two play areas: a swing set, and a mud puddle. Guess which one won.


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