Back to School but don't forget to play!

Yesterday morning I walked my girl the twenty minute walk from our home down the street, past the park and the community center, around the soccer field and up the small hill. Past the shops and around the corner to school. Her school. The start of grade 2.

Four years ago she was at the back door with her Peppa Pig backpack ready to start nursery school. Nothing vanilla about her, even at 2 3/4. Then two years ago ready for Senior Kindergarden and last year it was the excitement of Grade 1.

I was thrilled that the girl had a wonderful Grade 1, especially since we were new in town. We arrived two weeks before school started and we were very lucky - she had a class of down-two-earth nice kids and made some good friends at school and in our neighbourhood. Our back lane is non-stop with kids playing tag, biking up and down, and playing street hockey.

She loved school so much that at the beginning of summer she wasn't too thrilled for grade 1 to be over. But now after a few months of camp and fun and play and travel and hanging out, getting back to the structure of a school routine is not high on her list.

I don't blame her. Don't get me wrong - I am all for learning academic subjects, just not at the expense of everything else. Everything in moderation. They'll all learn to read just like they all learned to walk - some did the latter at 9 months and some at 15 months. But they all walk. 

I made a promise to myself when I had the girl to make as much time as possible for play. Time to create, to imagine, to get bored. And then figure out what to do next. The opposite of programs and schedules and tests and evaluations. 

She has some afterschool activities - she's "active girl", as she calls herself, and loves soccer and karate. She also gets some screen time but it's limited to an hour a day. And the space that's left is for play. 

There is nothing sweeter than overhearing the girl and a friend playing together. Negotiating what they'll do first and then what they'll do next. Pretending to be this person or that animal. Acting out made up stories. For hours.

So although it's back to school, don't forget to leave enough time for the real "work" of childhood - play.