Are parents over-scheduling their kids with structured activitie - New York News

Are parents over-scheduling their kids with structured activities?

Posted: Updated:
CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

There are more opportunities for children than ever.

If a kid has a knack for science, send her to chemistry camp. If a kid is funny, sign him up for classes at "Second City." Piano lessons, art classes and gymnastics are also all great opportunities.

However, they may come with a cost and it's not just your money.

A study found over-scheduling our kids with structured activities might hurt a crucial aspect of their development.

Researchers at the University of Colorado-Boulder studied two groups of children. Both were ages six to seven, but one group spent a week doing structured activities -- things like soccer practice, piano lessons, and homework tutoring -- anything closely supervised by an adult.

The other group spent a week pretty much just hanging out -- sometimes at home, playing by themselves, reading or drawing -- sometimes at the park -- playing by themselves or meeting other kids.

Basically, it was "free time."

What the study found is that the kids with the free-time did better at what's called "executive function." That's a fancy way of saying they were more independent and better at thinking for themselves. A small example is a little kid who remembers to put his jacket on without mom or dad having to prompt him.

It also includes bigger things like setting and meeting goals, and being organized. The study found the more time kids spent in non-structured activities, the better executive function they had. Also, the more time kids had in structured activities, the poorer their executive functioning was.

Learning executive function early in life is a big deal. Other research has linked it to better performance in school, and even better health and having more money as adults.

The problem, though, is growing up today is not like it used to be.

Hanging out used to be all we did -- riding bikes on the street, walking to a neighbor's house, going from one kid's backyard to another.

Nowadays, if you send your kid outside to play, she'll probably be the only one outside playing. Almost everything is planned and supervision is viewed as a must. Often for good reason, but it all gives kids fewer opportunities to step-up, do things for themselves, and make decisions for themselves.

It also means they don't know how to handle boredom. So, what's a parent to do?

An expert told FOX 32 News this: make plans for your kid to not have plans.

"You have to actually schedule downtime for your kids. And you have to protect that downtime. Your kids need to go to the basement, go outside, maybe with their siblings. Maybe with a parent. Schedule things were the kids are doing nothing. Like when it snows out in February and there's three feet of snow," said psychologist Jeremy Clorfene.

“Get them outside and start making snowmen for two hours 'til they come back. Get 'em outside every day, in the summer, sometimes doing nothing in the summer is learning -- huge value," he added.

Clorfene said that the over-structuring is a result of having both parents working nowadays. Also, because there are more one-parent homes.

Follow Us!

Share Your Photos & Video

  • Local NewsLocal NewsMore>>

  • Expert: 'Mini tornado' caused skydiver death

    Expert: 'Mini tornado' caused skydiver death

    Friday, August 1 2014 10:23 AM EDT2014-08-01 14:23:52 GMT
    A safety expert for a national skydiving association says a "mini tornado" caused the accident that killed a correction officer and injured his instructor during a tandem jump.
    A safety expert for a national skydiving association says a "mini tornado" caused the accident that killed a correction officer and injured his instructor during a tandem jump.
  • 8 things to do in August

    8 things to do in August

    Friday, August 1 2014 10:16 AM EDT2014-08-01 14:16:28 GMT

    July came and went in the blink of an eye, or squint since the sun was so bright. As you dwell on the memories of 4th of July, weekends at the beach, nights at the ballpark and a good amount of warm weather, August is going to be another month to make more memories. Restaurant Week is still going on as well as SummerStage, but there is so much more happening in August. Here's a list of 8 things you can do in  New York throughout the month of August.

    July came and went in the blink of an eye, or squint since the sun was so bright. As you dwell on the memories of 4th of July, weekends at the beach, nights at the ballpark and a good amount of warm weather, August is going to be another month to make more memories. Restaurant Week is still going on as well as SummerStage, but there is so much more happening in August. Here's a list of 8 things you can do in  New York throughout the month of August.

  • Man arrested for road rage shooting

    Man arrested for road rage shooting

    Friday, August 1 2014 9:15 AM EDT2014-08-01 13:15:13 GMT
    An upstate man is under arrest after police say he opened fire on another driver on I-84.The New York State Police say that Masey Moshref, 26, of Wappinger Falls faces a slew of felony charges after the Wednesday evening incident.At approximately 6:28 p.m., police received a 911 call from a driver who said a man driving a green Honda Accord bearing California license plates pulled alongside of his vehicle and displayed a black handgun.The victim says the man fired one shot at his vehicle, str...
    An upstate man is under arrest after police say he opened fire on another driver on I-84.The New York State Police say that Masey Moshref, 26, of Wappinger Falls faces a slew of felony charges after the Wednesday evening incident.At approximately 6:28 p.m., police received a 911 call from a driver who said a man driving a green Honda Accord bearing California license plates pulled alongside of his vehicle and displayed a black handgun.The victim says the man fired one shot at his vehicle, str...
Powered by WorldNow
Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Ad Choices