For my regular visitors, if you find that this blog hasn't been updating much lately, chances are pretty good I've been spending my writing energy on my companion blog. Feel free to pop over to Moving On, and see what else has been going on.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


Good, old fashioned play just what American children need.

A very short article, but it confirms something I have believed for many years. A partial quote...

Many parents load their children's schedules with get-smart videos, enrichment activities and lots of classes in a bid to help them excel, and spontaneous, free play often is sacrificed in the shuffle, according to the report.

Children need blocks, dolls, books, physical play and, at all ages, "downtime," says report author Kenneth Ginsburg, a pediatrician of Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

"A lot of pediatricians are seeing stress in children with this kind of schedule. It's not true for all kids, but it is a serious problem," Ginsburg says.

I am a firm believer in the importance of free, unscheduled, time - especially periods of relative isolation, where a person can be alone with their own thoughts and feelings. It's something I had when I was growing up, and I greatly appreciate it.

One of the things that bothers me so much about families today is how little free time people have, and how deliberately people keep it that way. In particular, I am rather alarmed by how busy children are at ever younger ages. Their days are filled with organized hours, either in daycares, preschools or school, then when they get home, there's even more sheduled events. Parents, in their well meaning desire to give their kids every advantage they can, instead create unnecessary stress both for themselves and for their children.

I have nothing against taking part in classes, events or sports at all, and feel that they are valuable contributions to a healthy lifestyle. What concerns me is that there is no balance.

I've noticed so many adults my own age, never mind children, who are incapable of being alone. They simply don't know what to do with themselves because they've never truly experienced it. A side effect of that is that many people don't truly know themselves. They've never had to time to get to know their inner thoughts and feelings, and to understand who they really are.

I took the value of having so much alone time as a child for granted for many years. It wasn't until, as an adult, I found myself with others about my own age who are making "discoveries" about various things that I'd deduced on my own so many years ago as, alone in my thoughts, I explored the bush and fields around our farm.

This free time, to explore, discover and learn, without someone hanging over you, judging you, trying to direct you, is something I want to give my children. I feel this time is more important to their growth as people than any external influence they could have.

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