As mom and educator, I am always thinking of how to help my child develop skills that will sustain a healthy lifestyle the rest of her life. And to do this through a joyful experience of her body rather than dreary training that might make her associate movement with pain.

To add to that, The New York Times has been sending me into a panic with articles that say, it is far easier to prevent weight gain then to shed extra weight when kids grow up because after we lose a lot of weight, our bodies naturally fights to gain back that weight. And in today’s papers, “to keep adversity at bay, exercise may trump diet“.

Recently, my daughter has been telling me that she hates to run, because it gets her all sweaty.  And so, I have been paying attention to how she plays with the other kids in the playground. There’s always a group that enjoys the monkey bars, there are a few bigger kids that enjoy playing tag, and then there’s a group of even older kids for whom it’s become too uncool to play with the playground equipment and have started terrorizing the little ones with nerf guns.

This neighborhood being Flushing, Queens and a predominantly immigrant neighborhood, I started wondering – What happened to the playground games that the kids’ parents grew up with? What happened to jumping rope – American style or Chinese style or Singaporean style? What happened to Chinese Ti Jian Zi or American Hacky Sack? Wired magazine has also listed 30 Classic Games for Simply Outdoor Play that would be great for us to introduce to our kids in the playground. Are they simply too uncool to play or for some reason, they have become less important than the “classes” (music, swimming, math, writing, and even yoga) that we busy ourselves with taking our children to all the time?

Children certainly don’t need more structure and supervision on the playground than their already tremendously structured and supervised lives. But surely, they could use some suggestions?

What playground games did you grow up with that got you to enjoy running, jumping and moving? 

-Yen Yen Woo