New York Post

Dumbing down of playtime

- Andrea Peyser

YOU might call me the world’s worst mom. I mean parent. (Human companion to a growthchal­lenged being?) I’ll try to watch those genderconf­orming terms. Forget it. If my daughter earns an A on her report card — yes, she attends a private high school that challenges her selfesteem with letter grades — I do something that selfappoin­ted childreari­ng gurus have declared unthinkabl­e. I tell her she’s “smart.”

And if my sweet little miss (is the genderneut­ral term “child” ageist?) makes me proud by killing it in a school project,, I tell her something verboten by the educationa­l ninnies who’ve declared these words offlimits — “Good job!”

But I really fall down on the schoolyard, a minefield of booby traps waiting to dedeprive my kid (yeah, I know she’s not a baby goat) of her allimporta­nt sense off security and selfworth.

If she falls and skins her knee, so what? Shake it off

I and try again, I tell her. If she doesn’t get picked for a sports team, I don’t hollerer or threaten to sue.

And, unlike today’s helicopter parents — one of whom allegedly has gone so far as to physically assault a coach who, he whined, terrorized his university-age progeny by expecting him to compete (Diddy, anyone?) — I refuse to smother the spark out of my girl. So when I learned that the city has spent $425,000 of taxpayer money to hire “recess coaches” to teach schoolchil­dren to play nice — effectivel­y bullying them into believing that winning is for losers — my blood pressure spiked.

What are they smoking in the city’s Department of Education?

The department scrounged through the dregs of educationa­l lunacy and, in 2011, hired an outfit from — where else? — California, which goes by the name Playworks, a contradict­ion in terms. Its main goal, it seems, is to prove to children that they’ve been doing recess all wrong for an eternity.

“We’re not teaching them how to play — we’re teaching them how to play respectful­ly,” Playworks New York’s program manager, Tashan Kilkenny, 25, known by kids as “Coach K,” told The Post.

Here are some rules of the playground, according to Playworks: No children, under any circumstan­ces, are to be declared “out.” They are merely “unsuccessf­ul.’’

In a game of tag, a child need not suffer the physical and psychologi­cal indignitie­s of being actually tagged. The kid is gently tickled on the shoulder. (I see sexualabus­e lawsuits coming!)

Schoolyard conflicts aren’t solved with fistfights, cursing or tattling to coaches, but with rounds of “rock, paper, scissors.’’

Playworks’ recess coaches now work fulltime in five elementary schools in fashionabl­e neighborho­ods of Manhattan and Brooklyn. In a pilot program launched last month, four elementary schools in The Bronx and Brooklyn are to share a single recess coach. I need to lie down. I must really stink at this parent thing. Years before recess coaches started infesting city schools, Columbia University psychology professor Carol Dweck (now at Stanford) and her team came to a kidshatter­ing conclusion. The nutty professor found that telling kids that they’re “smart” makes them more likely to rely on their brains and discourage­s them from making efforts to perform in class. That finding has gone virtually unchalleng­ed by lazy educationa­l weenies for nearly two decades.

Further research has concluded (how can I get paid for performing stupid studies?) that parents who lavish kids with praise — such as “Good job!” — can turn them into insecure praise junkies, utterly dependent on adults’ approval.

I want my daughter to run, jump and fall without fear of having her shoulder tickled. I reserve the right to call her “smart.” And when she makes a complex Latin assignment look like child’s play, or scores like a winner in a game of field hockey, you’d better believe I ignore the plight of her unsuccessf­ul peers and yell, “Good job!” (Or, “Try again next time,” if she fails.) I’ll continue doing so.

Stop wasting our money on kiddie fads. Let kids be kids.

 ??  ?? FUN & LAMES: “Recess coach” Marquis Bethel leads games at PS 9 in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn — one of five city schools where such coaches have been brought in to teach students how to “play respectful­ly.”
FUN & LAMES: “Recess coach” Marquis Bethel leads games at PS 9 in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn — one of five city schools where such coaches have been brought in to teach students how to “play respectful­ly.”
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