My childhood was spent WITHOUT smart phones, a microwave, cable TV or the internet- and I believe I became a better problem-solver as a result. I used maps to find my way. I listened to the radio. I explored outside, converting play houses into imaginary restaurants and mud pies into gourmet dinners. For me, organizing and problem solving continues to be a source of energy and renewal. I see the current generation lacking imaginative play and having fewer opportunities to learn life-skills. Instead of resolving to entertain children this year, let’s enjoy our time together learning how to live off the land.
Gever Telly, is the founder of The San Francisco based Tinkering School, and teaches simple skills to “raise kids to be creative, confident and in control of the environment around them”. Inspired during a dinner conversation after work, Telly reflected on how unnecessarily “safe” American children’s’ lives have become. His TED talk reveals his goal for the school: to be “hands on, deeply immersed and fully committed to the problem at hand”. His interview with Guy Raz, TED Radio Hour, discusses his book (in progress at the time), 50 Dangerous Things (you should let your children do). Telly presented a TED Talk on “Five Dangerous Things You Should Teach Your Kids.” Here is my own modified list and how everyday kids might influence your New Year’s Resolutions.
Play With Fire
My second-grader loves to crack, cook and serve up eggs of all types. I’m certain it makes her feel grown up and once given the chance, she certainly she has proven responsible. My daughter is able to recognize and respect the importance of staying safe around hot surfaces after a few short sessions in the kitchen. But she also has gained confidence in starting a gas stove top and takes pride in what she makes.
Our time building camp fires is the same. My family teaches how to build a campfire, sizzle a hot dog, roast a marshmallow and light a firework as safely as possible. So far, no children have been injured in the endeavor.
Shoot A Gun
Learning how to shoot anything from a nerf gun to a 22 caliber rifle can be daunting for someone who never exercised her 2nd amendment rights (like me!). But children who accurately shoot a BB gun can advance to excellent hunters of pheasant, deer, turkeys, doves, and geese- all of which are excellent sources of organic lean protein in their diets. Furthermore, residents who are at least 10 years of age and less than 16 are not required to possess a hunting license in order to hunt if accompanied by a hunting mentor.
According to the 2016 South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Site: A hunting mentor can be the mentored hunter’s parent or guardian or any other competent adult (at least 18 years old) who has the written consent of the child’s parent or guardian. The hunting mentor must be a resident, must be legally licensed for the game being hunted, must be unarmed (may possess a permitted concealed pistol) and must have successfully completed a recognized hunter safety education course. Mentors must possess the hunter safety education certi cation card on their person while accompanying a mentored hunter.
Use Power Tools
I’m not sure how many hours my second-grader has spent working alongside my husband, learning how to power and operate power tools, but it is significant. Working on plans for a trailer, chicken coop and tree house aren’t on the same creative scale as Tully’s Tinkering school, but do instill a confidence and comfort level that hopefully allows for creativity in the long-term.
Boats, cars, tractors, four-wheelers and snowmobiles are all vehicles we can control the accelerator while children control the steering wheel for an important lesson. According to Car and Driver, distracted driving is ranked as most dangerous driving habits behind driving under the influence and speeding. How many times in the past week have you been distracted by your children in the back seat? By teaching children the importance of driving anything without distraction is important, they may be less likely to pipe down when you ask them when lost, under severe weather conditions or simply when the car gets a little too loud! National Highway Transport Safety Administration estimates that there are 660,000 distracted drivers on the road most of the time. The federal government has responded by pressuring state governments to ban texting and driving, eating and driving, and all other activities that take motorists’ eyes and minds away from the road.
You know the adage- Give them to fish and they eat for a day. Teach to fish and they eat for a lifetime. Well, let’s teach them to drive themselves to the fishing hole, buy bait and catch the fish, cook it up on the camp fire and drive themselves home again! With enough enjoyment they might teach their kids the same.
We hope this is a unique set of New Year’s Resolutions for you and your family this year. As always, feel free to share how your family has approached 2017 with our Glean for Good Facebook page, Twitter page or general comments at gleanforgood.net.