Dr. Kristin Schaefer-Schiumo| Manhasset NY

Are Our Children Over-Scheduled?

As we head from winter into spring, many parents start to turn their attention to their children's spring activities. With that comes the age old question..how much is too much? It is true that many parents are concerned that their children would be alone if not for sports, karate, piano. Many remember fondly the days of children running, bike riding, and playing in our neighborhoods and are saddened by the current empty streets many of us see daily. It is also true that gymnastics, math clubs, and tennis teams are fun for children. Structured activities are wonderful...in moderation. They help children identify their interests and talents, learn discipline, teamwork, and commitment. But too much crammed into too little time makes children frazzled. Time needs to be carved out for school work, family dinners, and a good nights sleep. Children's moods and interests change all of the time. They need to explore, be spontaneous, and learn from each other and from play. Let's face it...children cannot be taught to imagine, they just do it when they have the time to let their minds wander. I can still remember building clubhouses with my friends...made of refrigerator boxes, tables covered in old blankets. Free time was creative time...and fun time! The reality is that activities surely enrich children's lives and should not be removed. But, play truly is the work of childhood and should not be lost.