Children have not forgotten how to play, but adults have forgotten to leave space in cities, and time out of school, home work, and factory work in which children may play. Again, the child—whether a city child or a country child—rarely needs to be taught how to play. Teaching him games will not produce vitality. Games are the spontaneous product of a healthy body, active mind, and a joy in living. Give the children parks and piers, roof gardens and playgrounds in which they may play, and leave the rest to them. Give them time away from school and housework, and leave the rest to them. Instead of lamenting the necessity for playing in the streets, let us reserve more streets for children's play. There are too many students of child welfare whose reasoning about play and games is like that of a lady of Cincinnati, who, upon reading the notice of a child-labor meeting, said: "Well, I am glad to see there is going to be a meeting here for child labor. It is high time some measure was taken to keep the children off the streets." Physical examinations would prove that streets are safer and better than indoor gymnasiums for growing children. Intelligent physical training will train children to go out of doors during recess; will train pupils and teachers not to use recess for study, discipline, or eating lunch.

Spontaneous Play On One Of New York City'S School Roof Playgrounds

"After-school" conditions are quite as important as physical training and gymnastics at school. Not long ago a nurse was visiting a sick tenement mother with a young baby. She found a little girl of twelve standing on a stool over a washtub. This child did all the housework, took care of the mother and two younger children, got all the meals except supper, which her father got on his return from work. As the nurse removed the infant's clothes to give it a bath, the little girl seized them and dashed them into the tub. "Yes, I am pretty tired when night comes," she confessed. This child has prototypes in the country as well as the city, and she did not need physical training. She did not lack initiative or originality. She did need playmates, open air, a run in the park, and "fun."

The educational value of games and outdoor play should be weighed against the advantages of lowering the compulsory school age, and of bridging over the period from four to seven with indoor kindergarten training. Neither physical training nor education is synonymous with confinement in school. The whole tendency of Nature's processes in children is nutritional; it is not until adolescence that she makes much effort to develop the brain. Overuse of the young mind results, therefore, in diverting natural energy from nutritive processes to hurried growth of the overstimulated brain. The result is a type of child with a puny body and an excitable brain,—the neurotic. The young eye, for example, is too flat (hypermetropic)—made to focus only on objects at a distance. Close application to print, or even to weaving mats or folding bits of paper accurately, causes an overstrain on the eye, which not only results in the chronic condition known as myopia,—short-sightedness,—so common to school children, but which acts unfavorably on the constitution and on the whole development of the child. At the recent International Congress of School Hygiene in London, Dr. Arthur Newsholme, medical officer of health of Brighton, made a plea for the exclusion of children under five years of age from schools. "During the time the child is in the infant department it has chiefly to grow. Nutrition and sleep are its chief functions. Paints, pencils, paper, pins, and needles should not be handled in school by children below six." Luther Burbank, in an article on "The Training of the Human Plant," says:

The curse of modern child life in America is overeducation, overconfinement, overrestraint. The injury wrought to the race by keeping too young children in school is beyond the power of any one to estimate. The work of breaking down the nervous systems of the children of the United States is now well under way. Every child should have mud pies, grasshoppers, and tad-poles, wild strawberries, acorns, and pine cones, trees to climb and brooks to wade in, sand, snakes, huckleberries, and hornets, and any child who has been deprived of these has been deprived of the best part of his education.

Not every child can have these blessings of the country, but every child can be protected from the stifling of the nature instinct of play by formal indoor "bossed" exercises, whether called games, physical training, gymnastics, or Delsarte.

New York City'S School Farm Does Not Stifle Nature Instinct