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Parents of first-grader warned child took part in ‘dangerous chasing game'

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At this point, it would be easier for school administrators to make a list of leisure-time activities children are allowed to participate in than those they are not. Zero tolerance has become so pervasive that about the only activity approved for kids at recess is to run around in circles, chasing their tails. Check that: Chasing is now also verboten.

At least that’s the case in Calgary, Canada, where David Kemlo, father of a six-year-old, received a letter from his son’s teacher complaining that the boy had been involved in a “chasing game.”

The letter, a copy which appears here, urges Kemlo to brainstorm with his son to see if the two of them can come up with “ways to play nicely at recess, for example, freeze tag, imagination games, or use equipment.” I don’t know what “freeze tag” is — the name doesn’t sound all that promising — and I’m willing to bet that holding a forefinger to resemble a gun barrel is not one of the “imagination games” the teacher has in mind.

So what’s the problem with kids chasing each other around the playground, as they have been doing for eons? The letter explains:

Chasing is dangerous because we lose control of our bodies and others may get hurt, as they did today. Both the children chasing and the children being chased have a responsibility to stop chasing games. If they cannot do this independently then they are encourage to see a supervisor.

According to Metronews.ca, “a child became hurt or upset during a ‘chasing game’.” A kid skinning a knee can be a pretty serious matter.

The only problem is that if the school’s goal is to shut out adversity, then they haven’t given this matter sufficient thought. Physical education classes and sports, such as softball and volleyball, all carry a risk of some child “becoming hurt or upset.” So does day-to-day interaction within the classroom, as long as preventing hurt feelings is on the table.

After Kemlo published his letter on Facebook, dozens of other parents chimed in to express frustration over the over-protective policies the teacher was advocating. In an interview with the press, Kemlo said:

To take the time to print out the generic letter and use all these general terms and you’re going to sit down and have discussions with six-year-olds about strategies? Like, give me a break. It’s a little ridiculous.

Actually, it’s a lot ridiculous.

The Calgary Board of Education has said in an email that it does not have system-wide policies concerning recess activities:

The CBE encourages principals and teachers to look for opportunities to encourage safe play and the prevention of injuries. These situations are managed at schools and in classrooms on an ongoing basis.

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