acepuppets

Posts Tagged ‘swing


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The summer holidays provoke a mixture of reactions from parents, some embrace the time with their children and others dread the constant need to provide entertainment.  Without a doubt the summer holidays is expensive and even if you cut down spending to a minimum, if you are living in poverty it can still be too expensive.  Children still require feeding and tend to develop an insatiable appetite because they are outside a lot.  If you are a family that has relied on free school dinners to ensure that your children get the food they need the impact of the holidays on your food budget can be catastrophic. Yes there are food banks but the sheer humiliation of having to go to one is enough to reduce families self esteem to zero.   Just recently the very astute SNP MP Mhari Black quite rightly pointed out that “Food banks are not part of the welfare state, they are a symbol that the welfare state is failing” (New Statesman) whatever your political leanings are, you do have to agree that she has made a very valid point.

It is becoming more apparent that the establishment is making every effort to undermine families who have to rely on benefits to survive and the broadcasting companies seem to be in cahoots by producing belittling reality benefits programmes.  The shocking thing is how remarkably easy it is to go from a comfortable lifestyle to poverty simply through redundancy or ill health.  We are all part of the system and we are all at its mercy – maybe not today or tomorrow but sometime we will be, when we are most vulnerable. Getting out of the poverty trap seems to be like trying to climb out of a greasy pit and being pushed back in again once you see daylight.  People are having to apply for jobs in any sector of the workforce and can apply for hundreds of jobs just to be perpetually rejected.  Common sense tells us that it would be better if the Job Centre provided career guidance and directed people to apply for jobs they could be good at and enjoy rather than reduce self esteem to nothing and increase debilitating mental health problems.

Although the welfare of children is taken into account the emotional impact really is not, children suffer in every single possible way due to family poverty.  In April 2013 Caroline Hoggarth, headteacher of Greengate Infants School in Barrow, wrote an extensive report on poverty in the Furness area.  As Lead Commissioner of, ‘The Furness Poverty Commission‘, she lead a high calibre team on researching poverty in this area of Cumbria.  The research found that poverty is increasing and the impact on the town as a whole will continue the awful devastation caused by redundancy and lack of jobs.  The report includes quotes from people who had answered the questions and shows that they never aspired to be in the position they were in, it just either crept upon them or they were born into that lifestyle.

Living in poverty can be devastating for children as it deprives them of everything that is necessary to develop into rounded and confident adults.  When children go to school they are expected to spend their time learning and eventually applying what they have learnt to everyday life, in a perfect world this really does happen and a child does absorb themselves in their lessons.  However children who face the harsh truth of poverty and dysfunction are too distressed and tired to deal with learning, imagine trying to feel enthusiastic about capital letters if you have spent all night hungry, cold, listening to arguing  and feeling self concious because you haven’t had a bath.  The Furness Poverty Commission Report states. ‘The head of a junior school reported several children ‘unprepared for school- tired, hungry, struggling with emotional tensions at home. This dramatically affects their ability to learn’. A school adviser reported ‘the stress of family poverty seriously affects children’s ability to learn and to form supportive social relationships in school’

Every summer holiday children are uprooted from a routine that generally ensures that they are safe and teachers are making sure that they are well, they are receiving free school dinners and they are not alone.  As soon as they leave the school gate with their term’s work in their carrier bags they are at the mercy of their family circumstances.  For many they will enjoy days out, time with family and learning new exciting skills like how to swing as high as a bird.  Others will spend their holiday hungry, tired, lost and facing the reality of their situation.  Children are very much affected by their circumstances and suffering the effects of poverty and deprivation in your formative years can leave an emotional and educational scar that may never heal.

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sand-pit-with-toys

When I ask my son what he has done at school each day I feel really sorry for the teachers because all he remembers is everything he has done at playtime and who he has fallen out with.  What he doesn’t say is that he enjoyed the English lesson that the teacher spent hours planning last week or that he felt fulfilled by the fact that he finally understood a mathematical concept that had been difficult to grasp.  At the moment the most exciting thing about school is the new sand pit and swing that has been fitted in the playground.  I am actually delighted that my son gets excited about such simple pleasures because it just goes to show that however enthralling a computer game is there is nothing like swinging in the air or sculpturing a fantasy land in a sandpit.

My son is a very cautious child who didn’t fall over very much when he was a toddler, however he seems to be collecting a lot of grazes and bruises on his legs at the moment indicating that he is getting more adventurous and daring.  I asked him if he could swing by himself and apparently he can swing three times by himself, which is fantastic.  If you look at the science of swinging it is amazing how much the body benefits from such a pleasurable activity.  Children also learn how to take turns and how to encourage each other to swing higher. If you also add the feeling of flying into the mix you can see why swings are still such popular pieces of playground equipment.

My son is also raving about the sandpit, which is pretty big and covered when not in use so that the local cats don’t contaminate it.  If there was a sandpit club after school my son would be first to put his name on the list, he totally loves constructing fantasy worlds, digging and covering himself with the little particles.  When my son started school the thing that made him very happy was the fact that the reception class could still play in sand during the day and on a visit he told the teacher that they needed to put more sand in the sand box.  He is in year one and sand play is not part of his curriculum so the sand pit in the playground is like a dream come true for him.

My son loves school and is always excited to arrive in the morning and reluctant to leave at the end of the day.  I only hope that he finds learning fun for the whole of his life.


We don’t have much play equipment in our garden. Other than a sand pit we never really have had. Is this wrong? My son’s new school friend is the proud owner of a (very impressive) garden climbing frame set. It comes complete with swing, slide and rope ladder, something quite like this one, and the kids absolutely love it. Everyday he wants to go round there to play, though if I allow him I’m quite sure that soon the parents will think we are starting to take advantage. It is a wonderful thing though, fantastic for the imagination as well – one minute it’s a pirate ship, and then it’s a cave and then they are climbing a mountain, it is rather quite fun to watch!

piarte ship

I’m not sure he’s a fan of the rope ladder but the swing is definitely popular, lower to the ground and something that can be held onto tightly. I’ve toyed with the idea of getting something for the garden in the past but then fear that as soon as it was there in his own garden he would lose interest in it (which is usually the way)….Maybe it would be best to just start with a swing and see how it goes from there!


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