Timeout New York Kids

Make the most of your city

Even in the summer, kids break a sweat

null Surprise, surprise: We live in an unremittingly anxious, overworked society. And, if college admission rates, standardized tests and extracurricular education programs are any indication, we are doing an efficient job at passing on our stress to the next generation. Careless childhood summers, when the largest decision of the day involved choosing between the pool and the tree house, are long gone. These days it's summer school, training camps and special skills workshops. Some parents view summers as an opportunity to offer their kids advance preparation for the school year: with the help of tutors and camps, kids can hike up their math grades or have a better chance of making the basketball team. Other parents hope that tightly scheduled days will prevent laziness; after all, these days the risk of becoming a premature couch potato is higher than ever. Finally, supervised activity is a saving grace for parents who are themselves overscheduled. While news outlets habitually cover the benefits of various summer activities, some are drawing attention to their possible harms. "Let's put the "break" back in summer break for kids," Regan McMahon stated in her San Francisco Chronicle opinion piece. As far as summer sports training goes, she says, experts aren't always in favor of a 12-month season and recommend a three-month break from one sport. An article in the Baltimore Sun delves into the issue of scheduled summers further, weighing the pros of learning, exercise and fun against the possible dangers of overstructuring our kids' lives. Camps and workshops can provide unforgettable experiences, but parents should allow enough time for independent play. The piece quotes a mother whose 10-year-old daughter has just requested a completely free summer. "She seems to think that will be so great and wonderful but I'm not so sure," the mother says. "I always went to my mom and said, 'I'm bored. I'm bored.'" Whatever happened to the idea that occasional boredom feeds independent creativity? We are all about the importance of educational fun, but perhaps our kids could benefit from a reasonable dose of the rare state of mind that so many adults covet: idleness.
Share your thoughts
  1. * mandatory fields