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Free play vs. Scheduled play

When I grew up I had a friend who did everything. She played piano, she danced, she did sports. I thought that was really cool but I never got a chance to play with her because she was always somewhere doing one of her activities. I had one thing. First it was dance, then piano, then vocal lessons. I only doubled up with activities when I also joined a children’s choir and I was in 6th grade by then. I only did one thing at a time.

I told myself that my kids would only do one thing at a time as well. That opinion changed when Jordan came into my life. I started to focus on skills and activities that could enhance Jordan’s skills. She showed a lot of interest in dance before she was two and needed to work on her balance. So when she was 2 and a half, I put her in dance. When she turned three she had a chance to take part in equestrian therapy which is really great to help build her core strength. I couldn’t say no to that. Now I’ve signed her up for four weeks of soccer. It’s 45 minutes for four Saturday mornings. It will happen while she’s taking dance and before equestrian therapy starts up for the Fall. Honestly, I’m wondering if we have to skip equestrian since I also have Jordan’s brother, Cameron, in soccer and piano… and possibly a recreational flag football team (non-competitive in every way – it focuses on skills). In total, I could end up with each kid taking part in three activities a week.

Trying new soccer shoes

Crazy? Yes. Very Crazy.

It hits a little closer to home when you see articles like these that claim I should just ignore my kids. I agree that I should put the technology away more often… but I’m not totally convinced that unstructured play is completely removed from my kids’ lives. A little bit of structure and free time seems to make sense. My kids both seem to be better behaved when they run around, especially Cameron. And I would love for them both to try different activities and see what they like the most. So far, Jordan loves dance and horses and Cameron is really enjoying piano and soccer. I want them to learn, play and participate in activities where they interact with other kids outside the structure of school. But with all the running around, will worry about articles that say I’m doing it all wrong. But to me, I feel it’s right for us.

No Comments

  1. Trinity Nelson on August 6, 2010 at 9:54 pm

    I think what you are doing is great. When I was younger we tried all kinds of activities, clubs, sports etc. but my mom also allowed us free time too. I think its about balance and you sound like you are on top of that, like you said a little bit of structure and free time makes sense. Let them try this stuff now and then later on they can weed out what they really like. Who knows maybe Cam will realize he loves Piano and get serious about it later in life or Jordan with dancing? I think you are doing an awesome job letting your kids have experience and not just run wild! haha! Seriously though I have cousins who have been raised with the “idle parenting” and I feel it makes them a little lazy and less driven when it comes to other things because they don’t develop the sense of accomplishment or learn that “practice makes perfect” that so many of the clubs and activities help teach. A little structure is a good thing in my opinion.
    I say GO YOU! Keep on being a super rad mom! 😉

  2. Trinity Nelson on August 6, 2010 at 10:01 pm

    Also I found this paragraph from the article to be ridiculous! lol

    “One morning, not so long ago, V and I refused to get up. I imagine we were hung over. At about nine o’clock, the bedroom door swung open and in walked Arthur, then six, with two cups of tea. A lot can be achieved by lying in bed. Simply by doing nothing, you can train children to do useful things. During the last holiday, we found we were lying in bed till 10 or 11. By abandoning our kids, they had taught themselves how to get up, make themselves breakfast and play.”

    He said you can “train” your children… TRAIN them. What. the. heck. Your kids aren’t servants or dogs. What happened to caring and nurturing? Plus his 6 year old made tea and breakfast. Wow. Poor kid. I thought it was parents take care of kids, not the other way around.

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