Kelli Harris

I despise running.

There, I said it. Out loud. To people I know and many I don’t.

Do you remember running as a kid? One of my mom’s favorite phrases was “Go out and get a little fresh air on you” so I didn’t have a choice. The neighborhood kids and I would be running and playing tag and other games for hours. Running back then was actually fun. It didn’t feel like running.

Fast forward to high school gym class and the dreaded “square.” Every student had to run the square block in front of the high school four times during the gym period. Needless to say, it was not fun for me AT ALL.

My running now consists of short distances and spurts on a tennis court several days a week and chasing my dogs in the back yard. That’s my idea of running.

Fast forward again to late last summer, when I promised my 20 years old goddaughter I would run her foundation’s 5K this year, which is in October. As of June, all I’ve done is download the Couch to 5K app on my phone. It stares at me every time I unlock my phone.

Well, that’s a start, right?

Since I made that promise to my goddaughter, she unfortunately passed away of Mass Cell Activation Disease last September. Now I REALLY must keep this promise to her. But I’m dreading every moment of it.

That same feeling of dread or despise, may make us skip the things that may be the best for the children in our programs.

Like letting the children play with the glitter in the classroom or taking the paint outside because it will create a big mess. Messy play encourages imagination and sensory exploration.

Like not going outside in cold weather, even though the children could benefit from outdoor play. Not only does this play develop gross motor skills, it allows them to observe nature and the characteristics of cold weather (snow, ice, wind) and allows them to get fresh air and Vitamin D.

Like not letting the school-agers use wood and real tools like hammers, saws, and nails because it’s too dangerous. This type of play encourages focused concentration and develops fine motor skills, while promoting a lifelong useful skill!

Like only letting the children use “tabletop” toys at 5:30 PM, so there are less materials to clean up before closing, although it may stifle their creativity and imagination with limited materials. By having a variety of choices available for the children, it helps children develop decision making skills, collaborative play skills, and help them discover new interests.

I encourage you to move yourself out of those uncomfortable spots, even if only occasionally, and allow those messy, cold, and dangerous activities (with proper supervision of course). The children in your program will reap the benefits and you may find yourself liking the activities too. It may even encourage you to run a 5K (or not).

You know, I could use a running buddy.


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