What children really need for healthy development is more good, old-fashioned playtime. . . enrichment tools and organized activities can be beneficial but should not be viewed as a requirement for creating successful children. Above all, they must be balanced with plenty of free play time, the report says.
It's sad that it takes a statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics to highlight this issue. Of course children need good, old-fashioned playtime! I honestly feel sorry for the over-scheduled kids that are being raised in this day and age :(. Activities, good; plethora of activities, bad.
Jennifer Gervasio has a 5-year-old son and 3-year-old daughter involved in preschool three mornings weekly, plus T-ball and ballet for each one day a week. That's a light schedule compared with her kids' friends, and Gervasio said her son in particular has trouble finding buddies who are free to come over and just play.
"There's just such a huge variety of things you can do for your kids if you have the resources, you almost feel why not," said Gervasio, of Wilmette, Ill. "There is a part of me that would worry if I don't sign my son up for some of these things, will he not be on par with the other kids."
For now, she says, she resists the pressure, instead allowing her kids plenty of time for looking for bugs, romping at the beach and other play activities they love to do. "I truly believe that they're better off when they can just do their own thing," Gervasio said.
Most activities are good in and of themselves: sports develop teamwork and physical fitness, ballet and music lessons develop grace and an appreciation for the fine arts, etc. But too much of a good thing is a bad thing. If a child is involved in every possible "good" activity, than all those good things become a bad thing. This generation of children is the most scheduled, yet the most unfulfilled, that our nation has ever seen. And that certainly isn't only true for children.
Our entire society (especially my area!) is caught up in this great ratrace of activity-after-activity, in an attempt to "have it all." We'll find fulfillment if we can only participate in this one more activity, or if we can just master this one more skill. Our children won't have a "normal" (whatever that means) childhood if they aren't involved in 7 activities per week like their friends. We need the right social groups, the church with the best programs, the schools with the best sports teams. We're searching for meaning in all the wrong places, of course.
A fulfilled life isn't a matter of having the right social groups or being involved in the best activities. A fulfilled life is simply finding joy and meaning in God, rejoicing in the toil He has set before us. Echoes of Ecclesiastes, to be sure :). We can rejoice in good, wholesome activities and in the toil God has given us, but the meaning and joy comes from Him, and these pursuits only have lasting worth as much as they are seen in that light and used for His glory.
Make sure to read the whole article :).