Long or short, use the summer holidays to get kids playing outside

Slowly, almost imperceptibly, over the last couple of decades the children have disappeared from our streets

Share
Related Topics

I tuned into Radio 4 the other day to hear a head teacher from some trendy academy extolling the virtues of shorter summer holidays.

Her students had been begging her for stimulating educational ways to pass the summer apparently but now that the school had shortened it to four weeks they were far happier and less bored.

I can’t remember the name of the school – I think it might have been the Stepford Wives’ Academy for Perfect Children – I do however remember my reaction; it was the kneejerk kick of my childhood self– the memory of those long summer days wandering about the common round the back of our estate, making bases strong against imaginary enemy gangs; eternal games of football on the goalpost-stripped summer playing fields; whole mornings filled with children’s TV that faded reluctantly into the afternoon gloom of ‘The Sullivans’ or ‘Little House on the Prairie’ – how could they take those six long weeks of summer from us?

The more I thought about those past summers though, the more other, less halcyon memories started to creep in. Maybe my memory, as memories tend to, had donned its rose-tinted spectacles again…

The long mornings of children’s TV were great at first, yes, but there were only so many episodes of ‘Dogtanian’ you could watch before you lost the will to live, and anyway was it really a whole morning packed with non-stop goodness? Once the cartoons were over the fare got decidedly dodgier  – ‘Gentle Ben’? ‘Flipper’? I still can’t hear the theme tunes to ‘Black Beauty’ or ‘The Littlest Hobo’ without wanting to curl up into a foetal position and search desperately for a happy place.

Then there were the long, summer days outside spent exploring, playing games, getting into ‘scrapes’ and so forth. How often did that really happen? How often, actually, was I just sat inside, on my own, while it rained outside, desperately trying to get my Han Solo action figure to look like he gave a sh*t about the battle for Endor.

I began to change my mind. Maybe shorter summers are necessary just to get children out of the house, especially these days when kids hardly play outside anymore… But then I suddenly realised that the two things are inextricably linked – the perceived need for shorter summer holidays and the disappearance of children playing outside.

Slowly, almost imperceptibly, over the last couple of decades the children have disappeared from our streets. A combination of computer games, the internet, endless movies and an increasing paranoia of paedophiles have conspired to keep children cooped up inside houses and back gardens.

When I have children, I want them to go out and play all day over the common like I used to.  I have a feeling, however, that they will be the only ones there and I will soon be reported as an unfit parent. Instead I guess I will have to tow the line like everyone else and keep them inside, dosed up on an endless drip feed of PlayStation and Pixar. After a couple of weeks of both them and me going up the wall, I guess I and – even more depressingly – they, will be wishing for shorter summer holidays as well.

Perhaps the rose-tinted glasses aren’t misplaced after all. Perhaps we really did have it better back in those fading sepia summers when we didn’t all line up like drones clamouring for more lessons outside the Stepford Wives’ Academy for Perfect Children.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Savvy Media Ltd: Media Sales executive - Crawley

£25k + commission + benefits: Savvy Media Ltd: Find a job you love and never h...

Austen Lloyd: Corporate Solicitor NQ+ Oxford

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: CORPORATE - Corporate Solicitor NQ+ An excelle...

Reach Volunteering: Financial Trustee and Company Secretary

Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: A trustee (company d...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Project Manager

£45000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Muslim men pray at the East London Mosque  

Sadly, it needs to be said again: being a Muslim is not a crime

Yasmin Alibhai Brown
In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

The young are the new poor

Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty
Greens on the march: ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’

Greens on the march

‘We could be on the edge of something very big’
Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby - through the stories of his accusers

Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby

Through the stories of his accusers
Why are words like 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?

The Meaning of Mongol

Why are the words 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?
Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible