With the many activities available for kids to do, it’s tempting to book them for everything and then some. Kids are getting busier these days, as shown by a recent study by the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research on 3500 American kids. The study found that kids today have half as much free time today as they did thirty years ago. Kathy Hirsch-Pasek, Ph.D from Temple University in Philadelphia says, “There is a myth that doing nothing is wasting time, when it’s actually extremely productive and essential. During empty hours, kids explore the world at their own pace, develop their own unique set of interests and indulge in the sort of fantasy play that will help them figure out how to create their own happiness, handle problems with others on their own, and sensibly manage their own time. That’s a critical life skill.”
How to tell if your child is overbooked? Observe him or her carefully, and take note if he or she is having trouble concentrating, exhausted, having trouble sleeping or throwing stress-related tantrums. Review your child’s schedule, and see if there are any activities that seem to take up a lot of his time or are simply too fixed in a certain direction. A Mother or Father would know best, so make a decision to unload from your child’s schedule based on how well you know your child.
You should also make time for what’s called “unstructured time”. This is anywhere from a few hours, a day, or more of unscheduled activity. Let your child take the lead that day, and do whatever he or she wants to do, even if it’s just for fun. Keep unstructured time sacred, the experts advise. It’s time for your child to recharge, rest, and spend time with family or friends the way he or she wants to. It also helps them be more productive when the busy and scheduled days come in.
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