Let your kids do dangerous things part (2)


We can counter this rampant fear-mongering of exposing our kids to danger by deliberately creating opportunities for children to learn to recognize and mitigate risk. And here they come. Number one walk to school. Car accidents are the number one cause of death for children in the United States. And you can reduce that risk greatly simply by reducing the amount of time spent in cars. The number one fear of parents in this country is kidnapping. Kidnapping by a non-family member doesn't even make the top five thousand things that harm children, but study showed that children who walk to school are better judges of character, have better situational awareness, and so are therefore less likely to be victimized. And the habit of walking pays dividends over a lifetime;  improved memory, consistent exercise habits, independence, and a long-lasting sense of well-being ( raising children).

Number two is climbing trees. When children engage with natural play structures, they exhibit greater cognitive engagement — this is a classic study out of Germany — more attention is paid to the activity. And unlike a jungle gym, the tree requires you to figure out how to climb each moment of it. Each spot in a tree is unique and presents a unique set of challenges. The child must also take and demonstrate responsibility for themselves as they ascend up there, out of reach of their parents. And there's this unique sense of freedom that comes from being up in the top of a tree.

 Number three is burning things with a magnifying glass. Children learn early that the sun is the source of power for almost all life on Earth. We get that in grammar school. But until they have a chance to harness and direct it, it's really difficult to build an intuitive sense of just how much power there is in sunlight. It's also a great self-directed way for them to explore — discover what burns and what doesn't — and if you're worried about fire, give them a water bottle. Refraction is less intuitive than reflection, and playing with the lens helps children integrate that concept.

Number four is to make a bomb in a bag!  We are composed of chemical compounds, surrounded by chemical compounds, and consuming chemical compounds. But we don't often have the chance to play with chemistry just for the sake of exploration. A simple chemical reaction that we can experiment with provides the conceptual foundation for deeper understanding of the elemental nature of our world. Home chemistry sets have all but disappeared, and schools right now are banning the baking soda vinegar volcano, so you have to create this opportunity for your children at home. Making a small explosion is a great way for kids to get a handle on the concepts of chemistry, and messing with the proportions is a great way to experience the scientific method.

And last but not least, number five; super-gluing  your fingers together.  A temporary disability can help us better appreciate our physical condition. Necessity is the mother of invention, and having to figure out how to open a jar of peanut butter without your thumb can force us to be creative. Done for an hour or more, your brain actually builds a new kinesthetic map of your abilities to accommodate this limitation. And when the glue comes off, there will be this moment where their usual abilities seem unusual to the child. So in conclusion, the most effective way to keep children safe is to give them a little taste of danger ( raising children).
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