You look over at your next-door neighbor. She has no time to talk because she is scheduled to take her daughter to dance practice as her older son goes to soccer practice. They are not yet in school, but the kids all have activities to go to. Your children are in the living room imagining up some new world. You wonder if you are doing your children’s intellect an injustice because your children are not enrolled in any of those types of activities. However, you just don’t have the resources to do it. Does this sound familiar? Perhaps it is the other way around and you are the next-door neighbor wishing you had some time to slow down a little. The jury is out on whether it is “good” or “bad” to have children scheduled to such an intensive degree, so we have a few suggestions to help you consider what is best for your child.
Know your child
No matter what, your child develops the best when they have loving one on one time with you, especially in guided play. When you spend time with your child doing various activities you will discover their interests and talents. Allowing them to freely express themselves will allow you to see what structured activities you might want to consider enrolling them in. Let them live their dreams, not your own. It is so common for parents to want to give their children what they never had growing up; however, what your child may want could be totally different from what you wanted. As a kid you figured out what you wanted and knew if you had it or not, your child also possess that same ability.
You will definitely need some kind of routine; dozens of studies show this to be true. Kids want routines because it helps them to feel safe. Routines help define boundaries. Parents can’t expect young children to automatically know the boundaries. Parents who do not have established routines and wonder why their child is misbehaving have only themselves to blame. Their children simply are not aware of the boundaries.
Too Much Scheduling
Having too much scheduled can be detrimental for a child too. Children need time to explore and develop their mind. They do this through play. Guided play is the most beneficial for them because it doesn’t tell them exactly how to do a play activity; it merely guides them to explore their options. Studies show that they more autonomy parents give their children, the greater ability they have to solve problems and not give up so easily. Remember, it’s a delicate balance of both instruction and discovery.
What’s Good is the Exercise
Your activities should include movement and exercise. We need to get our kids active again instead of sitting in front of the TV or computer monitor for long periods of time. So, if you are putting your child in some kind of sport at an early age then remember that at the young ages it is for the exercise, team building and for fun. If you are trying to create an all-star or an Olympic medalist without knowing if your child wants this or not, then you are going to have a real challenge on your hands.
Their Talents and Interests Will Guide You
Bottom line is to let your child blossom by listening and identifying their cues. Your child may love the constant action of a busy schedule. He or she may prefer quieter activities with fewer people. The key is balance. Your schedule should include: one on one time with your child, guided play, opportunities to interact in positive ways with others, activities that are active and opportunities to meditate and be quiet. Combined, these activities promote the mental, emotional, physical and social health of your child.