In praise of a common-sense revolution

Recently I was listening to a radio interview with a motoring expert, and a listener called in who’d just purchased an updated version of her favourite car.

She expressed how difficult she found all the touchscreens in the car and said she’d even had a few near misses while trying to adjust the demister or radio.

Interestingly, the motoring expert informed her she was not alone among consumers and at least two executive car companies have indicated they’ll be returning to using old-fashioned knobs that don’t require you to take your eyes off the road.

I saw this as a small validation that practical common sense is clawing its way back into our modern world.

In my work with families and schools I’m starting to see a lot of ways in which common sense is regaining ground. It’s happening in our primary schools where more and more schools are rethinking the fear-driven choices of years gone by.

Staff and parents are finally making choices to allow primary students to climb trees again, to roll down grassy banks, and to-do handstands and cartwheels again because not only is that good for children physically, it helps build resilience.

Many schools are going a step further by encouraging parents and students to be involved in creating outside play environments that are more engaging, challenging, interactive and fun. Some are even favouring ‘loose parts’ over expensive resources to get kids creatively engaged.

Nature playgrounds are appearing everywhere and research shows this brings positive changes like increasing concentration in class, less bullying, more cooperative play and braver, more confident children. Play still needs to be a significant part of childhood and that is supported by research as well as common sense.

Also, I hear some schools are returning to the practice of having 20 minutes of physical activity before class starts in the morning. The research is really clear on the benefits of activity, not only in terms of improving physical wellbeing, but in improving mental wellbeing, self-regulation and concentration in class.

I’ve heard the same thing is quietly happening at young children’s birthday parties as I’ve had a few parents tell me that pass-the-parcel is returning to the old rules, in which there is only one winner — helping children experience disappointment early in life and giving them strategies to overcome failure.

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Instead of being in a hurry to make our children smart and standardised test-ready, more parents are heeding the message of allowing childhood to be valued and important by slowing down.

There’s a resurgence of go-slow-Sundays (or Saturdays) where families stay in PJs and have no screens, homework or chores until late afternoon.

I hear more talk of children being given clear, firm boundaries too and that chores are making a return as a normal part of childhood.

Again research has shown that children who do chores regularly in childhood make healthier, more capable adults. Healthy parenting sometimes means your children might not like you – maybe they’ll even tell you they hate you – because they cannot always get their own way.

Maybe this return to a more grounded, common-sense way of living will see parents put their phones and iPads down while they watch their precious children play, perform or achieve moments of peak performance or total disaster. Our kids know when we are really present – and it is an amazing gift that much of this crazy world seems to be stealing from our relationships.

Awww maybe I’m dreaming? I did see a pair of knee pads for crawling toddlers recently and an app that tracks your children EVERY moment of their life, and a contraption you can put over your child’s body while they have their nappy changed so they can be entertained by a device … we’re not out of the woods yet.

Hopefully though, you’re among those being touched by this revolution of the common-sense way of parenting — the way that acknowledges what a wonderful teacher life can be when we embrace the good, the bad, the ugly and the stunningly beautiful as all being valuable.

This article was originally published at Essential Kids.