Study: kids are over-scheduled

Study: kids are over-scheduled

A new study tells us that kids need more playtime and are over-scheduled. Imagine that.  I’ve been saying for years that kids are over-scheduled. When I was actively involved in youth ministry, the big problem was getting kids to set aside time for our activities because they were so overcommitted. Many kids play several sports, take some kind of musical lessons, have extracurricular school events, hold down jobs, and then many of the divorced kids are shuttled from parent to parent, not to mention the socializing. Church is just one of the activities that must be scheduled, and often is not the top priority.

Here’s some soothing medicine for stressed-out parents and overscheduled kids: The American Academy of Pediatrics says what children really need for healthy development is more good, old-fashioned playtime.

Many parents load their children’s schedules with get-smart videos, enrichment activities and lots of classes in a drive to help them excel. The efforts often begin as early as infancy.

Spontaneous, free play—whether it’s chasing butterflies, playing with “true toys” such as blocks and dolls, or just romping on the floor with mom and dad—often is sacrificed in the shuffle, a new academy report says

I’ve blogged about this phenomenon of parental competitiveness over-driving kids and stressing them out. There’s a whole baby-industrial complex out there that’s convincing parents that in order to “succeed” in life (which usually means “make a lot of money”) they must be trained from the womb to excel. I’ve seen it myself: kids so regimented and so focused on the future that they never have time for the present.

Too many parents are so focused on their kids becoming adults that they never have time for them to be kids.

We should also keep in mind that structured activities are in many ways easier for parents. They keep kids busy while Mom and Dad take care of other things and with so many parents working now, just getting the basics of caring for kids and a house consume nearly all their non-working time.

Children overscheduled with structured activities “are missing the chance they have to dream, to fantasize, to make their own world work the way they want it. That to me is a very important part of childhood,” Brazelton said.


[Thanks to Danielle Bean for the link.]

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1 comment
  • Children also need a healthy environment for unstructured play. That means safe neighborhoods – physically and morally safe – where they can run around with their friends without formal supervision. This sort of environment has largely disappeared so unstructured time has become snack foods and video games.