I’m sure you’ve heard or read that children learn best through play. Here is a good article which talks all about how play is a child’s job, how it teaches them to solve problems and get along with others. It gives guidelines on how parents should play with their children.
It stops short of suggesting that play continues to be an important element in the school years instead saying “Play in early childhood is the best foundation for success in school.” I agree that it provides a great foundation for success in school, but I believe it should extend into the schools more than just at the kindergarten level. After kindergarten, the opportunities to play while in school are reduced to P.E. classes which involve mostly very structured play and recess. Many schools have even cut back their allotted recess time which is the only free play time allowed after kindergarten.
Add to this all the extracurricular activities parents sign their kids up for and what is left? Barely time for any assigned homework, dinner, bath and bedtime. Children no longer have the free time available to them even at home. I may be exaggerating here. Not all children are busy 24 hours a day. There are still some parents who only allow one extracurricular choice per kid per year or allow their kid not to be involved in any organized activities if they are not interested. And there are parents who can’t afford to put their kids in any activities.
Sometimes the activities take the place of being a latch-key kid. In a single parent household or one in which both parents have to work, afterschool activities may be the only thing keeping a child from having to go home and be alone for several hours. I don’t want to judge other families’ decisions. Each family has to decide what is right for them. I just want to provide some food for thought. The more we pile onto our kids, the more stress they have to deal with. Stress can lead to health issues, and not just physically but emotionally as well.
One’s childhood should be looked back upon as a time of carefree, stress free memories. It should be full of fun memories and not just a blur of jetting from one activity to another eating fast food meals in the car between activities. Life is full of responsibilities, but it should also be fun. Even as a grownup, life should be fun. When you are doing something fun for the first time, you pick it up quicker because it interests you. You are apt to stick with it longer if you are enjoying yourself.