As the dreaded (highly anticipated?) first day back to school looms, and you start organizing schedules, supplies, new clothes and activities, remember to take a little of that summer vacation feeling with you. Your kids may be starting up with fall sports leagues, but do they need to take music lessons and karate and language classes as well—in addition to going to school? That doesn’t mean letting them slump on the couch watching TV for hours on end, but a little time to putter around in the basement or backyard, reading a comic book, poking their siblings, or doing a self-assigned art project can be time well-spent.
The push for kids to achieve, succeed and produce at a young age has lead to such creations as the film Race to Nowhereand a mass of magazine articles and books about putting an end to tedious and self-defeating homework assignments. The jury may still be out on how exactly which homework assignments really benefit which children, but over-loading kids and teens with half a dozen extra-curricular activities, to either enrich them or make them better candidates for an Ivy League school may be misdirected good intentions. Despite trying to plan for a future for our children, we may be missing the big picture. A couple of good questions to ask would be: Will this be good for their mental and physical health? Will it make them happy? Or maybe a better and more easily gauged question, will it make them unhappy?
Knowing what to do and what not to do with one’s time can be a balancing act, for sure. Your kids need to learn this, too. You may end up with someone who claims that they are bored. But a little boredom never hurt anyone. So, let them run through the sprinklers in the afternoon. Go for a bike ride instead of cracking the books right away. Bake some cookies, eat them, and then do some phonics. Let a little of the endless summer feeling keep going through the fall.
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