‘Old Skool’ Games – why our children should play the old skool way

If you’ve read my previous blogs or visited our Jump Up Outdoors program then you know I am a big fan of children playing with sticks. Today I’d like to focus on a different type of sticks to the ones I usually mention… pick up sticks.

As a paediatric Occupational Therapist, I am ashamed to say that two of my three children only played pick up sticks for the first time this last weekend…what have I been doing the last ten years!?!

Our wrongs have been righted though and now that my kids know that the game pick up sticks exists, they are hooked. We are currently in the throes of a pick up sticks championship that is as serious as competing for an Olympic gold medal.

Why am so excited about pick up sticks??? Here’s just  a few reasons:

  • It is so simple, which means it is quick and easy to learn
  • You develop and refine your pincer grip (thumb and finger work together to pick up small objects)
  • You develop and refine eye hand coordination skills
  • You need to interact with and speak to other people
  • You negotiate rules and take turns (& other social skills)
  • It is a lot less expensive than a phone, tablet or gaming device (I got my box for 20c at the school fete)
  • It is easy to take anywhere (you never know when you’ll be stuck waiting)
  • It is fun.

Watching my children play pick up sticks over the past few days has got me thinking. I’ve been thinking about games from my childhood, that we used to spend hours playing and that are close to extinction in 21 century playgrounds…elastics, jump rope, knuckles, marbles, cat’s cradle (string games) and more. Each of these games have similar benefits as pick up sticks, yet all of them have declined in popularity over the years.

There is no denying that technology is pervasive and permanent part of the lives of our children but it should be just that…part of our children’s lives. In our busy and ever changing world, we must always remember that child development has not and will not ever evolve at the pace of technological change. So it is essential that we remain true to the undeniable principles of healthy child development. What better and easier way to do that in our day to day lives than to remember games of days gone by.

Written by Madeline Avci. Mum of 3 active boys. Occupational Therapist. Owner of Jump Up for Kids (including Jump Up Outdoors). Madeline is passionate about making the outdoors part of everyone’s day and supporting families to navigate the challenges of our modern world.

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