consistent parenting advice
consistent parenting advice

Free Play and Learning - Are My Children Missing Out?

Free play and learning? What about my time? How can we fit it all in?

Today the question of free play and learning has become problematic because so many working parents are just so short of quality family time.

free play and learning

Many parents feel they owe it to their children to be using this valuable time for their further education.

Some years ago, the need to discuss the notion of play time for children just wasn't raised.

Children just did it!

Parents just expected it!

I was raised with, " Go outside and play," constantly ringing in my ears.

Free Play and Learning

Here is a question from Pramoda asking about free play time and time for herself.

I really appreciate any advice on some parenting questions.

I am a mother of 8 year old boy (3rd grade) and a 2 year old girl going to daycare right now. I always think whether I am doing right or not.

1. My son goes to school at 8.00 and comes back at I work from 7 to 3pm. Monday and Thursday he has Kumon (math and reading classes) and everyday he needs to do kumon sheets. It takes an hour at least. He needs to do school work also.

Wednesday, he has art class, Tuesday and Friday soccer. Weekends also he needs to do kumon. I like kumon but he doesn't like it.

Most of the days, he doesn't have time to play. Always some thing to do.

I always wonder whether kumon like things is important at this age? Is free playtime more important than education at this age? How can I help him?

2. He goes to public school, he went to Montessori until k5.We can afford private school but feel like what difference it makes in the elementary school. Am I thinking right?

3. Since I have two small kids, me, as working parents, getting hard to have free time for us. Mornings and evenings always busy with kids. Only time I get free time is after kids sleep. How can I manage my time effectively ?

Thanks for your time.


About Free Play and Learning

Hi Pramoda,

Thank you for your question - it's interesting to read your inquiries. You seem concerned about whether you are making the right decisions and choices for your children. I hear also that you are concerned about using your time wisely.

free play and learning

Firstly, it seems to me that a parent, like yourself, who takes the time to seek out and question the right thing to do for her children, is obviously a caring and concerned parent. Secondly, time and working families is always such a problem. I do think you are right to wonder about your son's free play and learning and how to manage your own time more effectively.

It is during free play time that your son learns so much about himself, about others, and the world around him. He is learning about concentration, self control, self image and esteem, exploration, mastery of new ideas, time and space, peace and creativity - all while he plays. Also in a free play environment, his learning is usually anxiety-free.

There is a trend nationwide to focus even more on the fundamentals of learning reading and math. It's difficult for parents to resist trends which make them feel they are inadequate parents for not providing this.

Do you feel your son needs Kumon academically? Does he enjoy his Kumon time as much as you say you enjoy it? He certainly is a busy little boy with art class and soccer as well. No wonder you worry that he has no time to himself?

free play and learning

When these opportunities for learning through free play are replaced with even more school work, childhood becomes a constant 'working' environment, and opportunities for his personal development are replaced by educational advancement.

These years of child raising pass by more quickly than you can ever imagine. Many parents feel that the time they have to spend with their children is so short that they better use it facilitating their eduction rather than play time.

Play is about learning the importance of who he is, rather than placing importance on what he can do. Childhood lasts only a short time. Because of the constant pressure of expectations each day, play is an important recovery time for him also.

I believe having time for yourself to relax and engage with your own interests is so important. It is very difficult to climb out from under a busy work load in order to take time for yourself, but it seems to me that the rewards from doing so tend to outweigh the extra stress. See the time that you now spend morning and evening as loving, family time rather than as a stress filled working time.

free play and learning

Giving to your family from a full emotional capacity is so much more generous to both them and to yourself. Have another look at what you consider is important to get done in your day. It is not selfish to need time out. Balance is the key here.

free play and learning

Just as you cannot drive a car with out petrol, you cannot expect to take good care of your children or yourself if you are running on empty.

I cannot comment about public vs private schooling. However, I would suggest that if you feel happy with your son's education in elementary school, why fix something that isn't broken?

Thank you for this valuable question about free play and learning.

If you have a question or an experience of parenting you believe will be helpful, why not share these in the hope that others may be helped and inspired too. Your contributions are valued. Please contact me

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