Friday 1 April 2016

Are today's children mollycoddled?

When you think about your childhood, what are the memories that stand out most? 

These days, the average child spends less than half an hour a week playing outside; a third of children have never climbed a tree and only 10% walk to school. And yet study after study has confirmed the benefits of children spending time, unsupervised, in the great outdoors.

Brian Moses' childhood was, well, somewhat different: “I would be shooed out of the house in the morning, not to be been seen again until mealtimes. Between those times, I was effectively free to do whatever I liked, whether shutting down the street with impromptu go kart races, terrorising the park keeper in pursuit of conkers, or letting freshly caught crabs run havoc across the sea front."

Brian, one of Britain's most loved poets, is hoping that his newest book Keeping Clear of Paradise Street will help parents re-examine their own childhood adventures. He believes that the great outdoors can be beneficial to young minds.

The Ramsgate writer and poet, with over 200 published works, has now written his childhood autobiography. Keeping Clear of Paradise Street is a heart-warming coming-of-age story that transports the reader back to 1950s Ramsgate, and the tail-end of the golden age of the British seaside.

As a former teacher and frequent speaker at educational conferences – with more than a million book sales to his name – Brian feels it’s time to revisit his Ramsgate childhood. His book is aimed principally at children, but nostalgic adults will find his stories of equal interest. Covering universal themes such as first days at schools, first loves, bullying and teenage mischief, Keeping Clear of Paradise Street is a timeless account of the trials and tribulations of growing up.

In the last 30 years Brian has visited more than 3000 schools and has seen fads come and go, but he believes children have stayed the same.

“The current generation gets a lot of flak for just wanting to sit inside and play video games all day. But I think this a symptom of parenting. Often, these days, parents are so wary of letting their kids out their sight. My book urges these parents to set their children free. In the 1950s and 60s, my friends and I would invent games for ourselves to play, and our success in these games would depend on our own imaginations.

“Of course, it’s important that children are always safe. However, keeping a child physically active is also important for their long-term emotional wellbeing: a child who regularly plays outside is likely to be more sociable, self-sufficient and self-disciplined than one who is instead kept inside and under supervision.”

Keeping Clear of Paradise Street is out now, available from the Candy Jar webstore and other good retailers. 

Brian Moses is available for interviews and appearances.

What are some of your favourite - and craziest! -  childhood memories? Tweet us @candy_jar

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