The month of April reminds me of the excitement I used to have as a child for summer holidays. April meant, the last few days remaining to expel the year long struggle of studying. The fun part of summer holidays was definitely ‘playing outside’ the whole day. I remember how my brother and I went home only to eat and sleep. The rest of the day was spent on the streets and the playground. Wow! For some reason, the words ‘playground’ and ‘playing outside’ sound so strange and alien now!
We never ran short of games and sports to play outdoors. Summer to many meant watching kids jump around in the neighborhood. There was chaos, excitement, a breath of fresh air with kids reminding everyone of their wonderful childhood memories. Now I’m past the summer holidays phase, as all I look forward for is only the weekend. But thinking of my time in India during the summer of past few years, I hardly got a sight of kids jumping around on the streets. That always made me wonder, if there are no kids around? Or do they just stay indoors playing on PlayStation or Xbox? Is that even real playing? Or are they busy ‘utilizing’ (wasting) this valuable time at a coaching center to crack those crazy entrance exams?
In a country like India, where physical fitness and wellness takes a back seat, the need for outdoor activities has lost significance. Schools without playgrounds or physical fitness hours are no longer rare. The main target for most schools is to produce a bunch of ‘toppers’ of Board Examinations or Mathematics Olympiads. They no longer care to allocate time for outdoor activities. Even if they do, it’s just for the sake of it and not for training students in their areas of interest. Schools who stick to their principles of ‘overall development’ of students still exist. But the craze of parents to get their child ahead in the rat race, makes such schools lose their reputation. As a result, even the good old schools have to end up following the herd to survive.
As a kid, I used to wait for an opportunity to get out of the house to play and have fun. Once I got back from some physical activity, I concentrated better while doing homework. Whereas, days when I never played, my concentration levels dropped. This is true for every child. It is proved that engaging in an outdoor activity/sport and an art enhances a child’s concentration and grasping. Making children aim to nail those exhaustive entrance exams due to the country’s fetish with mainstream career goals, does no good than a wasted childhood.
I see kids now waiting for an opportunity to grab the iPad or the smartphone to play virtual games. How can this be even close to a physical activity? Spending too much time with electronic gadgets and video games only strain eyes.
My young, smart cousins are not even aware of the games or sports that I used to play at their age. While they laugh at my inability to play a virtual game any better, I pity them for missing something called ‘actual fun’ a.k.a ‘playing outdoors.’