Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Changing the rules of the game

My son is almost always up for a game of tag. He starts a spontaneous game of tag in almost every Boy Scouts meeting, chance meet up with friends and during after school play. Tag is easy to learn and easy to play.

Then there are all the variations of tag that I hear take place during his P.E. classes: Freeze tag, hula hoop tag, jump tag, double tag, team tag and so on.

Tag is about as organized a sport as my son is currently interested in playing.

And I am OK with that. Should he ever want to join a more organized sport, then we will support him, even though I have my concerns about adult interference within the games. Because, as this article points out, sometimes the act of an adult organizing a game takes all the fun out of it.

When children organize their own games, they make up their own rules. And those rules don't always make sense to adults, but it does give kids practice at negotiating and compromise with their peers. Even simple exchanges like, "this is base and you can't tag us here" or "you have to do 10 jumping jacks to get yourself unfrozen" have to be agreed to by the whole group.

This all reminds me of the most fun game of kickball I ever played. And that is saying a lot, as I was never a fan of kickball as a kid, and we played it all the time in physical education class from sixth through eighth grade. One time our teacher said we were playing kickball but we could change the rules however we wanted. We huddled up and came up with these changes:
  • You can run the bases in reverse order if you want to.
  • You can have multiple people on a base at one time.
  • You don't have to leave the base until you are ready to run.
  • Four outs each inning.
And it was the most fun game we ever played. And, we never played that way again. (I'm still baffled as to why.)

What children's game would you want to change the rules of? Also: Tag. You're it.

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