Janesville52.4°

"Overprogramming" vs. pure freedom

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Brenda Schultz
June 24, 2011

I love summer. Some of my favorite memories are of chasing and capturing fire flies, playing on the swing set until it got too dark to see, running barefoot all day, going as high as possible on the tire swing, and, in general, going full throttle and getting plenty of exercise. I also loved to lie on a reclining lawn chair and gaze up at the clouds and daydream. Summer was all about freedom and play, and I want it to be that way for my daughter, too. She is so interested in everything, though-- primarily music, science, and dance, that it’s tempting to sign up for many different classes—and she’s only on the verge of turning 4! Our budget won’t allow us to sign her up for everything, of course, and if she didn’t maintain an interest in something, we wouldn’t continue, but….

She takes violin, and loves it. She’s beginning to take piano lessons, and I definitely see ballet in our near future. These are all wonderful things, but one shouldn’t succumb to the temptation of “over-programming”. I well remember a time when I took acrobats, tap dancing, Girl Scouts, piano, and swim—all at the same time! At age 9, I finally told my mom that it was just too much, and so we backed off some of this.

Every parent wants their child to become acquainted with different activities to learn their talents and perhaps develop those further, and I’m thankful for the availability of short-term sessions like soccer and swim lessons; just a taste of it, to see if she has an affinity or talent for them. But I find that I have to evaluate, and re-evaluate again as I ponder all that’s available to children nowadays against the wonderful memories I have of the pure, plain freedom of childhood.

How do you choose, and limit the extra activities for your child? What are your favorite memories of summer?



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