Posts Tagged ‘imaginative playing’

Are we over scheduling our kids?

As I sat watching my two oldest during their swimming lessons this week, I couldn’t help but over hear the conversation between two parents near by.

Tuesday night is soccer and Wednesday night is baseball. Thursday night is drama after the math club. Friday night is greek school. Even the weekends are full with cooking class, dance lessons and Sunday school.

How do they do it?

I have my kids enrolled in swimming. I think swimming is something every child should learn. They also belong to their local Brownie/Beaver group and attend Sunday school. With just three activities planned I find our week busy; I can’t imagine having a program every other night.

And what about the kids? On nights we have swimming we go from school to the pool, homework and dinner are taken care of in the van before class and after swimming it’s time to head home and start the evening routine. They’re exhausted. How would they feel if they had to repeat a day like that every day? And what about free play?

My kids love their programs but not nearly as much as they love their free time in the backyard. They bond as siblings, they explore and discover the world around them, they imagine and pretend. In school they follow rules and focus on work. At their lessons they focus on the class and follow the rules. Where’s the yelling and running and sitting and dreaming and singing and laughing and doing nothing?

I can appreciate a parent wanting to give their child an advantage by enrolling them in special programs to expand their knowledge but I think scheduling all your child’s free time is a misguided decision. And it’s these over scheduled and structured kids that complain about being bored in the summer or standing around in the school yard doing nothing. They don’t know how to use their imagination, they don’t know how to occupy their time unless there’s a coach or instructor telling them what to do.

Of course we don’t help each other either. It’s those parents, the ‘I have my child in advanced chess for fun’ type parents who guilt and shame the rest of us into following them. I mean if we really cared about our kids why wouldn’t we have them taking Latin classes. Or perhaps our children just aren’t gifted enough to handle the extra work.

I think there’s a misconception with some parents that a child doing nothing is a child wasting valuable minutes of their young lives. But you know what, doing nothing can be one of the precious things only found in childhood. As adults we seem to spend so much time getting things done that we don’t appreciate doing nothing or goofing off.

So my children won’t be chess masters or learn how to do pleas, but there’s so much more they will learn by just swinging on the tire swing in the back yard.

I think it’s time we as parents just let our kids be kids.

Practicing for Winter

You may remember the video of my son and younger daughter doing their crazy slide tricks. I thought that was bad enough until I turned around and caught my two older kids doing this:

It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that my son came up with the ‘bright’ idea. I mean, he’s the one with the creative way to solve those pesky slide puzzles.

And when asked what made him do it: Winter’s coming and we want to tobogganing but we don’t have snow yet. It’s almost like tobogganing down the big hill.

Hopefully the snow will arrive before a trip to the emergency room.

Tweedle Dumb and Tweedle Dumb’s Other Half

We had a play structure installed in our backyard when I was expecting my third child (so my older kids could play while I was laying on the ground enjoying my morning sickness). It’s really come in handy. Like yesterday for example. I had some work to do in the backyard so I took my two youngest with me to play (I worked, they played). My son is a wanna-be circus clown and his younger sister is a wanna-be in training. I guess I should have been paying better attention:

This is actually tame for the two of them. In case you can’t make it out, they’re sliding down on the front half of a child’s plastic wheelbarrow. I say front half because my ‘clever’ son figured out the back half slows you down and therefore removed it. I usually give the kids a little leeway when it comes to playing in the backyard since the school playground has so many rules. But really if you think about the school rules, they’ re in place for a reason, so kids don’t do ridiculous things that get themselves killed. So of course I had to give the speech that what they were doing was dangerous, but not before I captured it on video (I guess that makes me Tweedle Dumb Mum).

Enjoy your weekend!

From just a simple bed sheet

I’m always amazed at what kids can occupy their time with. If left to their own devices (and a simple bed sheet), my kids can play together without fighting for over an hour. And that’s a good thing

A simple sheet draped over a bed became a fort then a boat then a cave. All which equaled a great morning of giggling fun.