A friend and I were discussing this yesterday. Many children today have extremely limited "free time" -- to simply "do nothing". Most are shuttled from day care or after-school care on to organized extra-curricular activities. Time at home may find them immersed in homework, computer, tv, or video games.
Summer (or other seasonal) "breaks" find them enrolled in one or more "camps" geared to keep them busy (and watched after.) While certainly there are arguments that what they learn is valuable, do you believe that there is also an argument that something important may be lost as well?
Do you believe that today's kids are benefiting from so much scheduling or missing not having more "free" time of their own?
I think it is a problem when kids expect to be entertained all the time. They need to learn to find things to do on their own. My kids do have a lot of free time in the summer because I can't afford all the expensive camps, but I think they do play too many video games. I try to make them spend some time outside but when it is so hot it is not always easy.
Mom to Lee, Jake, Brandon, Rocco
Stepmom to Ryan, Regan, Braden, Baley
Granddaughters Kylie 10/18/2010 & Aleya 4/22/2013
I never consider a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosopy, as a cause for withdrawing from a friend. --Thomas Jefferson
I feel very bad for over scheduled kids. We do very little scheduled things in the summer, I like to see what they can come up with. We have a 1 hour a day screen time limit, and they are each given 3 chores to do, but other then that they can do whatever they want.
I have a friend that works that puts her DD in every possible camp all summer. She spent one week here last summer and LOVED the free time, I think they must have rode bikes at least 100 miles that week
Molly, Morgan, Mia and Carson
I think the key is finding a good balance between being overscheduled (and constantly entertained) and left with nothing much to do. During the school year my girls are very busy with dance and church after school, and I admit there isn't much time for riding bikes and playing in the yard. They enjoy their scheduled activities but also enjoy a quiet day at home where they can watch TV and play with their toys.
During the summer there is much more down time and they entertain themselves quite well. I think it is important that they develop an imagination and learn to get along without me (or any other adult) hovering over them and making sure everything goes smoothly for them. I try to schedule several cheap/free activities during the week to keep things from getting dull, and also to promote social skills and language (they love making new friends!). Today for example, we went to a local park that has fountains and sprinklers the kids can play in. Something completely free, killed nearly 2 hours, and they had a blast. If we had the extra cash I'd probably send them to a week long summer camp program that interested them. I've heard that the Busch Gardens camps are awesome and I'm sure trying out a new sport would be a great opportunity too.
I think a lot of kids are overscheduled but I do see a trend of kids not being schedule as much and I love it.
Right now, I have 1 kid in preschool who will go 1/2 days in summer to help with her diagnosis. My youngest will start swimming lessons sometime in the fall and preschool next year but other than that they are pretty free.
My goal is 1 activity at a time when in elementary. If we do end up sending them to rel. education I'm okay with that as it is 1 hour a week.
Mom to E and C
It's really about balance, and the personality of the kids. It's also about the parents -- my brother and his wife are stressed out right now because they spend so much of their time driving the kids from one activity to the next. Everybody is on edge over there as there is always something going on and not much down time.
Conversely, my kids would benefit from less down time and more activities, which is something we're working on for the fall when we hire a part-time nanny who drives to be there after school.
Sometimes a kid has a true passion for something that requires a lot of time & attention, and if the kid is focused and loves it, I don't think it's bad. I just think there can be underscheduling too. Kids respond well to structure. I think chunks of time on their own is great, and I love hearing my kids playing pretend and creating elaborate situations & characters, doing puzzles, things like that, but they do go a little crazy with long stretches of the day and nothing on the agenda.
I think it's helpful to tone down the scheduled stuff if it's getting to be too much. Lots of people go haywire with those things and it makes everybody very tense!
Would you guys consider 3 activities a week for one child too much or okay? DD will be in swimming, dance and Sparks starting in September - all during the work week but with weekends free. Does that sound like a lot? She loves her extracurricular stuff, but I don't want to push too much on her. Last fall she only had swimming, last winter it was just dance (b/c swimming was full!!) and that just finished last week. Also, next spring/summer she wants to play soccer too. Maybe I should just see how much she can manage and still enjoy it.
I do think a lot of kids are overscheduled. Last week I was trying to arrange a playdate with three of Tiven's friends. Between summer camps, swimming lessons, piano lessons, kung fu lessons, baseball practice, baseball games, gymnastics, and piano practice, there was not a single hour all week long that her three friends were all available. Their parents are offering weekend playdates, but weekends are family time for us. It's sad because Tiven misses her friends; a few weeks ago she was spending six hours a day with them. There should be some balance, some down time, some free play time, but not so much that they turn to TV & computer for entertainment.
ClairesMommy, here's what we did. When Tiven was three, she started preschool half days. When she was four, we added soccer which was one hour per weekend. When she started full-day kindergarten at age five, we allowed her to sign up for one brain-stimulating after-school enrichment class (drama, art, science, piano, etc. but not a sport) each semester. When she turned six, we added swimming lessons, which is half an hour per week, and soccer started having a one-hour practice per week. So now, during the school year, our rule is that she has to have one individual sport or physical activity, one team sport with practice, and one brain-stimulating activity per week, and none of them can be on the same day. We plan to do roughly the same thing with Weston, adding something each year, although he's expressed more interest in baseball as his team sport. Tiven might be dropping swimming for gymnastics as her individual sport.
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