No questions in the virtual Mail Bag today, so I'm taking this rare opportunity to ruminate on one of the reasons I love the beach so much, and why you should, too, if you're the parents of young kids.
I was at my favorite Cape Cod beach the other day, South Cape Beach in Mashpee, ( A beach in Mashpee? On Cape Cod? Huh? OK. Time out for a brief plug on why this is one of the best and perhaps least well-known beaches for familieis on the Cape: It's on the Vineyard Sound, so there are no big waves (well, hardly any waves; it's more like a lake). Big kids may not like that, but this is paradise for little kids. It's a 90-minute ride from Boston, so do-able as a day trip. There's plenty of parking for non-residents; if you walk the short distance along the beach to the resident beach area, there's a great snack & drink stand, as well as portable bathrooms; and for nature lovers, there are fabulous walks around Waquoit Bay.)
So, back to the other day where I couldn't help but be transfixed by the kids in the two family groups near by. It was like a watching a textbook page on play come alive. Each group had four kids between the ages of 2 and 6.
The youngest kids were playing side by side (text books call this parallel play), consumed for more than an hour, digging holes, going back and forth carting water in little pails.
Several of the 4 & 5-ish aged boys was alternately throwing sea weed into the water and at each other, draping it on the sand in designs, and digging. When the two 6-ish aged two girls weren't playing in the water, they were collecting shells to decorate the sand castles they made. They had a storyline, of course, that was all about a princess and several princes.
The parents in both groups? They were carefully monitoring it all from age-appropriate distances, depending on the kids, and were called upon now and then to comment on the castles, the designs and the holes. But mostly, these kids were self-directed, independent, in charge of their own little worlds, and having a ball.
I know these parents weren't thinking about the practice their kids were getting in small and gross motor skills, or as David Elkind has put it, that there's power in play, that "spontaneous, imaginative activities [can lead] to happier, healthier children."
I say that park entrance fee qualifies as an investment in their kids' future.
PS. I always answer questions in the order in which I receive them. Typically, there's a week or more backlog but right now, (July slump?), I guarantee if you send a question in, it will get answered asap.
The author is solely responsible for the content.