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MomTalk.com November 17, 2017:   The women's magazine for moms about children, family, health, home, fashion, careers, marriage & more


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Maybe Your Kids Don't Need Piano Lessons in French With a Harvard Tutor After School

By Lenore Skenazy

"Here's some soothing medicine for stressed out parents and overscheduled kids," read an Associated Press story last week. "The American Academy of Pediatrics says what children really need for healthy development is more good, old-fashioned playtime."

This is supposed to RELAX us parents? Are they KIDDING? After your kid does two hours of homework AND baseball practice AND the recommended 30 minutes a day of reading...

By Lenore Skenazy

"Here's some soothing medicine for stressed out parents and overscheduled kids," read an Associated Press story last week. "The American Academy of Pediatrics says what children really need for healthy development is more good, old-fashioned playtime."

This is supposed to RELAX us parents? Are they KIDDING? After your kid does two hours of homework AND baseball practice AND the recommended 30 minutes a day of reading and at least a couple of pages of the "Get Your Fifth Grader the Good Grades He Needs to Become a Successful Sixth Grader So He Can Become A Stellar Seventh Grader So He Can Finish College, Give The Graduation Speech and End Up With A House, Three Kids and A Labradoodle" workbook, now you have to make sure he gets out there and PLAYS, too?

Uh -- wait a sec. I guess I see the point.

The Academy is saying something that needed saying, even though it's staring us in the face: Kids are so overscheduled today, they are missing out on the biggest enrichment class of them all -- playtime.

"Play allows children to use their creativity while developing their imagination, dexterity and physical, cognitive and emotional strength," the docs reported. And yet, for many well-intentioned parents, it's last on the list of approved activities.

How come?

First and foremost, I blame cable. Not KIDS watching cable (although three hours of the Cartoon Network will turn anyone's brain into Go-Gurt). ADULTS watching cable -- that's the problem. Because any time some poor child gets abducted or, God forbid, killed, it is on the news all day. Sometimes all decade.

As the anchors grimly shake their heads for the zillionth time, it's almost impossible to remember the truth: These horrible incidents are not increasing. They are on TV precisely BECAUSE they are rare. So it is no nuttier to let your kid ride her bike outside today than it was when the Bradys were still a bunch.

But TRY telling that to your friends. I have. They look at me as if I've just found them the perfect babysitter: Mark Foley!

Result? The kids stay inside -- watching cable. (See the cycle?) Or else they play video games. Or they sit plopped in front of some DVD that's supposed to make them a genius because, as we all know, that's how Mozart got his start. With most of the kids inside, the kids who DO venture out can't find anyone to play with. So in they go, too.

And that's assuming those kids have any free time to begin with! The children not cooped up with their electronics are often cooped up someplace else -- dance class or soccer practice or after-school homework help.

These programs aren't bad. My family does them, too. But when supervised activities fill every free moment, kids never get a chance to figure out how to entertain themselves, or even how to deal with other kids without some grownup saying, "OK, Tyler, now YOU bounce the ball."

That's why plain old playtime may actually help your child more than yet another season of Tae Kwon Do-Based New Math Tutoring on Ice.

If you're wondering which one to squeeze in, ask your kid.

Lenore Skenazy is a columnist at The New York Daily News (lskenazy@nydailynews.com).
COPYRIGHT 2006 NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
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