Kids Talk: Empowerment

Parker Barry

Kids are people, too, of course, brimming with the ideas that will shape the future. They know what they want and what they want to do. Toca Magazine talked to a few kids from a variety of educational environments — U.S. public schools, alternative private schools and homeschools — to find out where kids feel empowered and how they’d change things if they were.

If you could plan your whole day, what would you do?

  • Margaret, 6: I would do some math because it’s good for your brain. I would do some exercising so I’m healthy. I would help with chores to make sure everything is clean and nice. I would clean up my room. I would play with friends and not leave anybody out.
  • Rebecca, 9: Get up, eat breakfast while I watch some TV, shower and brush my teeth, practice piano so I don’t have to do it later, play with Duck tape, play on the iPad. Then eat lunch, have a play date, eat a snack, go to the park, and then dinner and dessert. Then watch a movie, go to bed.
  • Toby, 10: I would go to a bunch of video game stores and a waterpark, and last I would order pizza for dinner and play video games until I fall asleep.
  • River, 11: First I would go to my weekly wilderness class and go swimming and do water activities there until I had to go home. Then I would go to YMCA dodgeball for two hours and then on the way home I would stop and get an Oreo shake. After that I would come home and have a sleepover full of video games with four of my friends.

When do you feel totally in control (or empowered) to choose what you do or how you do it?

  • Margaret, 6: After lunch (recess). When I play games. Exercise.
  • Rebecca, 9: When I’m on the iPad at home.
  • Toby, 10: On my birthday.
  • River, 11: I usually feel in control 95 percent of the day. I don’t have too much schoolwork or chores. After my work is done, I can do whatever I want within reason. I read for several hours most days. I’m allowed a certain amount of screen time per day that I can use when I choose.

Do you ever get to choose what you do at school? Like when?

  • Margaret, 6: Recess. Free time.
  • Rebecca, 9: At recess.
  • Toby, 10: When we do brain breaks the class gets to choose what we do.
  • River, 11: I get to decide when I start my work, what order I do it in, and where I do it (in my room, outside, at the table and in the guest room). Sometimes my mom lets me choose between lessons.

What do you and your parents disagree about the most?

  • Margaret, 6: When I don’t go to bed.
  • Rebecca, 9: Practicing piano.
  • Toby, 10: Getting off my electronics.
  • River, 11: How to get along with my 7-year-old brother, what he does, and when to let things go.

If kids were in charge, how would school be different?

  • Margaret, 6: We would be in charge of the teachers. We could do what want. We could go and play.
  • Rebecca, 9: Longer recess and longer lunch; two snacks instead of one.
  • Toby, 10: Instead of learning we would have parties every day, and on Fridays we’d order pizza. NO HOMEWORK.
  • River, 11: Lots of field trips and hands-on classes, but at home small but steady amounts of work.

If kids were in charge, how would home be different?

  • Margaret, 6: Kids could do what they wanted. They wouldn’t have to follow the rules. Go to sleep when I wanted to. I could play what I wanted to play.
  • Rebecca, 9: Less piano practice, do pillow sack races whenever we want, snack on sweets more.
  • Toby, 10: No chores and video game time every day.
  • River, 11: After schoolwork, the kids would be free to do whatever they want without going overboard. Honestly I would bump up the allowance, bump up the sugar, the media, and the sleepover frequency!


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