How to Free Your Child From the Schedule

The matter has come: now the doctors are ordered to prescribe the game. The American Academy of Pediatrics details the urgency of this issue in a policy statement . There is a shortage of games in this country, and we know that, right? In parenting articles, it seems that no breed is better prepared than a bubble wrap child who commutes from Chinese to fencing to organic cheese making classes until bedtime. We love reminiscing about the days when we could get on our bikes and wander for hours with the neighborhood kids (some of whose names our parents have ever learned), and we really want our kids to have that experience. We learned that play improves brain structure , helps children show empathy, and makes them more creative and innovative .

And yet, oddly enough, it is difficult to hack into some structure of children’s life. I know I feel a little pressure to add more adult instruction on my daughter’s days, when her school teacher hands me an inch-thick package of extracurricular activities (“Oh, Robotics Fight Club”), or when other parents ask me what her the schedule looks like fall (“Hmm, is it Halloween?”), or when I read interviews with musicians, dancers and athletes that mention that they started their journey to mastery at the age of three (“Aha, we are already late!”) It takes real willpower and planning to retreat Here are some tips for keeping your child on schedule in today’s overscheduled world.

Be realistic

You don’t have to move to the forest so your kids can frolic in the streams all day to give your family more healthy play time. Planned activities have benefits – higher self-esteem, lower drug and alcohol use over time, and social bonding. Several parents of high school students told me that actively engaging their children in extracurricular activities they enjoy mostly kept them safe during times of peer pressure and emotional turmoil.

The goal here is simply to protect children from downtime. Denise Pope, co-author of Overworked and Underprepared: Strategies for Stronger Schools and Healthier, Successful Kids , tells the New York Times that young children need an hour of play time (which does not include dinner, homework, or baths) for each subsequent period. -school on schedule. You can set a rule for your kids, such as one sport or activity per season. (I decided to send my daughter to another voice class that she really likes.) You have to find the right balance for your family.

Start with a good play environment

Dr. Robert Murray, lead author of the AAP report The Critical Role of Breaking , tells me, “Parents can absolutely help their child find a safe and fun environment to explore, but it’s important to let him or her lead. “It offers play areas, beaches and streams, forests and parks, fields, a zoo, local farms or indoor spaces where children can pretend to play with their peers. Wherever you go, take a step back and give them a little “ BEING TIME, ” which he describes as an antidote to parent-directed activity.

Houses give children access to the open type, with which to tinker, even to the fact that you think it unnecessary . Blocks are always great, as are the occasional bits of rope, aluminum foil, duct tape, egg cartons, toilet paper rolls, and empty shampoo bottles.

Prepare to suck

Understand that it is sometimes difficult to give children downtime. On weekends, the first thing my daughter asks when she wakes up is “Where are we going today?” When I don’t say anything to her, she whines and says it’s so boring . And then my parents-friends will start writing to me: “What are you doing today? Want to take your kids to the library as they tell stories? Or princess ballet? Or go see a movie? “And I often want to say” Yes! “It would be easy to strap my kid to a car and do something out of it. But sometimes it’s good to say no. I know that my daughter’s moans will eventually turn into silence, and while doing her chores around the house, I often notice that she is having fun playing with her dollhouse, making something out of a cardboard box, or drawing with chalk in the backyard.

Put white space on your calendar and get ready for protests. Then find something to do and let your kids do the same.

Chat with other lagging parents

Some parents find that as much as they want to free their children from the schedule, there is a problem: their children have no one to play with. The playgrounds are empty, as all the other children go to chess or taekwondo at 15:30. A project called Let Grow addresses this problem by bringing together local parents who want to give their children more independence while doing less for them. You can register to find nearby families .

Once you find other like-minded mums and dads, you might want to consider creating a play street where community members can transform a residential city block into a car-free space so kids and families can play together, say weekly or monthly, or lobby schools. open their own gaming clubs where they leave their gyms or playgrounds open until lunchtime for free play on their own.

It is true that taking kids off their schedules requires a lot more work than it did many years ago. But after that, you may well find that your family will become less stressed and happier. And plus, it’s a doctor’s prescription.


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