If not, do a quick check: Has my kid had enough time to be free this summer?
- Parker Barry
Sort of like the old adage about life with toddlers — “The days are long, but the years are short” — long summer days fill up quickly with trips, appointments you’ve put off during the school year and fun camps, and before you know it, summer break is half over!
These longer days without normal commitments can make some parents anxious, worried what kids will do all day, and in these days of “Pinterest parenting,” it’s easy to feel like you should have a perfectly coordinated (and photo-worthy) day planned for your kids. But in reality, long stretches of free time make excellent incubators for creativity and problem-solving. Kids need unstructured play time to develop resilience and learn social skills. Summer is the perfect time for kids to play, and there’s nothing parents need to do — besides get out of the way and let it happen.
Have your kids had the opportunity to mutter the ubiquitous, yet important, summer refrain, “I’m bored!” yet? If schedules have been a bit harried or the screens have been glowing more than you’d like, there’s still enough summer left to step back and let free play ring.
Give kids some free time to practice new skills they’ve learned at camps or to immerse themselves in a hobby. Let them roam the neighborhood or explore nature. The benefits of play for the whole child are just as important as academics for kids — even more, experts like Peter Gray argue. Give kids the time and the freedom to play this summer. It’s important!