Are you making this crucial mistake like SO many parents these days? Consider the following scenario: you drop your child off at school where they spend seven hours jumping from one subject and one project to another. After school the child does an hour or two of homework. Then it’s on to piano lessons, dance lessons, or soccer practice. If this describes your routine (or is close to it), you’re hardly alone. This type of scheduling is all too common for parents, even with children as young as preschool age. You no doubt have good intentions, and educators largely are doing their best to teach your child. The problem is that we may be neglecting the most important experience kids can have: playtime.
An interesting phenomenon has occurred in the past 20 years or so: life has gotten busy. It has gotten busier and more complicated for parents and other adults, and it has become so even for young children. Whether it’s sports, music or some other extracurricular activity, it seems we are dragging our children from one activity to another, cutting out down time.
Certainly as a parent you would no doubt prefer this over your child mindlessly staring at the television or playing on a phone or other electronic device. But there has to be a happy medium, right?
There is nothing wrong with involving your children in activities; in fact, this can be healthy. But don’t forget to let you children be children and play, imagine and have time away from structured and scheduled tasks.
The Benefits of Play
An abundance of practices, lessons, rehearsals and even study time can cause tremendous stress and pressure for children. On the other hand, playtime has far more benefits than some parents might realize. The National Association for the Education of Young Children recommends certain types of playing and contends that playing has some of following positive consequences:
Children learn cognitive skills, physical abilities and vocabulary from play. They also learn how to read and how to interact and get along with others. Children learn how to cope with stress by playing. Children should play outside and explore their environment. Parents should make time to allow their children to play. Missing the Mark in the Classroom
As early as preschool, children are being pushed to limits that exceed what they are capable of doing in the classroom. This isn’t to say children shouldn’t be expected to work hard or that they can’t learn new things at a faster rate. What is does mean is that in early grades core curriculum is far too rigid and structured. Kids are being told what they need to be thinking and learning, when, in fact, they are quite adept at doing this on their own through play and creativity.
For some reason, playtime and classroom time have divergent paths. It shouldn’t be this way. Learning at school can and should incorporate both study and games.
As a parent, you want the best for your child. You want them to learn, develop and grow with better opportunities than you had. Just don’t rush them through childhood to quickly.