Summer was a time for renewal and rejuvenation at one time and that renewal came from the freedom to make choices. I wonder if children today will experience the interior exploration that comes from unstructured down time. Those down times may include being peaceful and quiet while doing absolutely nothing other than being outside. Free time means no set agenda, no adults hovering nearby and the option to let things unfold as they will.
It seems that the fears of parents in general have been heightened by media portrayals of child abductions and abuse stories. These fears have resulted in parents keeping a much higher level of supervision than I experienced as a child. While no parent could be faulted for wanting to keep their child safe, there may be a way to minimize the loss of freedom. In the structured world where most children operate, adults have set all the ground rules and have made most of the decisions about how kids must behave. When kids have the freedom to operate with some autonomy, they have the chance to practice decision making and negotiating. Children will move at their own pace, discover their own interests and apply the vigor they deem appropriate in the pursuit of those interests. Parents can set play dates at a home where a parent is present but does not intervene in the play unless absolutely necessary. Many communities have playgrounds where kids can come together where an adult could be present but not hovering over the kids but rather watching from a far.
Give your children the chance to experience as much freedom as is possible within your comfort zone. Free play is an important and fundamental experience that all children need.
This summer, have a least a day or two where your child has some free time built in to their schedule to just relax and set their own agenda.
It is summer, take it easy.
Remember, all kids count.
Reach the writer at hurlburt@ wildblue.net.