The Effects of Over-scheduling

I love organized programs! They are so helpful in helping children connect with other children, allow children opportunities to increase skills, and allow parents a chance to connect with other parents. Sometimes they’re just what we need to get out of the house after being stuck at home for various reasons.

I love that we have various programs available for our children; music, sports, dance, swimming, art, the list goes on and on. All of these programs have value.

But, somewhere society has told us that we need to do EVERYTHING at the same time. It has told us we need to be apart of 5 different activities per child in order for them to be successful and develop to their fullest potential. We need to be lugging them from activity to activity every day of the week. If we don’t, we are a “lazy” parent or we are selfish for not spending all our time hauling children around from activity to activity.

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First things first: it is not our job as parents to make our children happy. In Positive Discipline we discuss and expand on this in all forms, but for now I want to focus on the aspect on making our children happy by constantly entertaining them.

Again, I cannot stress enough the benefits programs have for children. I have put my children in various programs, I will continue to put them in various programs. But I will not make programs the centre of our family life. You will not see my children in a variety of different programs at the same time, especially during the early years.

Why? Children need opportunities for “down time”, they need opportunities for self exploration. They need to learn how to fill their time, rather than have someone else fill it for them.

Play is crucial for development, “Play is the work of the child”-Maria Montessori. It is through play that children learn social skills such as acceptable social behaviours, empathy, and compassion with the assistance of a watchful adult nearby. They develop fine motor skills, problem solving skills, and more while they interact with objects in their environment. They develop a sense of curiousity when they are allowed to explore nature freely.

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When we are constantly scheduling our children’s time, they are missing out on these opportunities to learn. They start to become dependent on always being “busy”, and don’t know what to do when they finally have time to themselves. It is amazing what children can discover when they are “bored”. They will create stories, pictures, explore, let their imagination run wild.

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Check out our next blog about the benefits of “boredom”.

 

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