My younger sister rarely sees her friends outside of school. They seem to exist only as brief mentions and anecdotes. They are so consumed by academics that they study for tests several months in advance. Every moment is designated to a structured activity. Free time is out of the question.
In today’s fast paced world, more and more is expected of children. Colleges are becoming increasingly competitive, and parents are pressured to pack their children’s schedules with productive, enriching activities to foster their minds and bodies. These activities are just like anything though: in excess, they can be harmful.
According to an article by Dr Kennith Ginsburg, simple, unscheduled free play is incredibly important. When children use their own imaginations without restrictions, it helps them to develop important creative skills. Unregimented play with parents and other children also helps children to be more assertive, more socially aware, and better communicators.
So how do you find a balance between activities and free time? If your child has a tendency to bite off more than they can chew in terms of extracurricular endeavors, make a list or a chart of all possible activities along with their respective time commitments. Use the process of elimination to ensure that your child will have at the very one to two hours of free time (this time cannot be used for homework or daily chores.)
It isn’t a bad idea to try scheduling an extra hour of peace for yourself either. See what you can do in that hour you have everyday. Will you take up a hobby? Start a long term project? Or maybe play a game with your child? Whatever you decide to do, you’ll find that it pays to play.
Photo by duncan via Flickr