By Bob Houghtaling

Social and emotional learning is an essential, but often overlooked, component of the educational process. In a world that seems to move quicker each day, how we communicate, problem solve, and handle stress need to be things that are taught to our children. In the midst of an opioid crisis, as well as our seeking ways to address gun violence, teaching skills to promote interaction and understanding should be a priority. Perhaps by “remembering” we can find a few answers. Sometimes complicated concerns have to be addressed using the simplest of means.

Remember

Remember when there was a thing called play
And children did it most every day
On the swings or chasing a ball
Engaged in fun nearly all

Remember when we spoke face to face
And not at such hurried pace
A smile, hug or pat on the back
Perhaps two friends walking ’round a track

Somehow these days have passed from view
For constant quest of something new
With most contacts by computer or phone
Little wonder we now feel alone

Remember lessons when teachers spoke
With skills intended to evoke
Critical thinking through passionate minds
While having time to be quite kind

Remember when imagination reigned
And far off places learners gained
With time left to stare at clouds
Engaging friends, to laugh out loud

Now the pressure for test scores
Has forced our leaders need implore
Students to ride a conveyer belt
Scarce time concerning what was felt

Perhaps remembering not long ago
Is something all of us do know
And teaching young people this simple gift
Can cure that which has become bereft

So, let’s remember to take a walk
Spend moments sharing heartfelt talks
Looking neighbors in the eye
These can be done if we try

While there might be no stopping change
Priorities can be rearranged
We will experience brighter days
If taking time to engage in play

We live in a world of extremes. We also live in a world of tweets, media overload and a constant flow of information. These dynamics have caused a number of conflicts as well as wonderful advances. As we hurry though life, taking a brief interlude for play might prove to be a powerful elixir.

Bob Houghtaling – father, husband, son and concerned citizen – is the director of the East Greenwich Drug Program.