What Autumn Leaves Are For

Topic #28, Climb a Tree, suggests that the proper way to get out of a tree is to climb down – but there’s a lot to be said for this approach:

“That’s not safe! How do they know there are no sticks or rakes in the pile?”, someone will inevitably ask.
The correct answer to this problem is to have the kids make the pile of leaves themselves, and the correct instruction to give them is “don’t leave anything in the pile that you wouldn’t want to land on.”

Making a pile, testing it, and maintaining it over the duration of the activity is a great way for kids to take responsibility for their own safety. These kinds of play foster and reward innovation, but, like so many fun activities, they can be cruel to those with poor impulse control.

So, rather than teach kids how to explore their surroundings safely, we end up with playgrounds that come with giant warning signs:
Rules For Playground Users

My personal favorite of the rules here is “Stop the swing before getting off.” These rules constrict the forms of play allowed in the playground, and make the parents responsible for enforcing them. The first thing you see in a playground should not be a list of the things you cannot do there.

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