Summer fun… naturally

It is still very important for children to partake in unscheduled self-directed playtime

All is not lost with the late arrival of summer. Just because there is a bit of a pond on the soccer fields or sunbathing at Lakeside beach is a bit cozier than usual, summertime fun is still plentiful.

Besides participating in one or many of the summer camps available, it is still very important for children to partake in unscheduled self-directed playtime. I realize it may be a bit tricky for working parents to allow their children to just hang at home without some supervision but when it is (legally) possible, I think it may do everyone some good.

It seems we are a generation of adults that is passing down our not-so-healthy busy-ness attitudes to our children. I wonder why we are so afraid of letting our kids and teenagers just hang out. What do we think they will get up to that would be so bad? Or worse, why do we fret so much that they might lollygag and do nothing all day?

There was a time when there was much less hype and hysteria about children’s safety. Kids at that time were left to their own devices, imaginations — and lunch making — at fairly young ages. I’m not saying being a latchkey kid was the best situation for everyone, but it did seem to produce many self-starters who have grown up pretty normal, successful folks.

I realize costs, expectations and times have changed, but children have not. They still have imaginations to develop; which is a human facet, according to many experts, essential to growth.

So parents, if you’re concerned that your children are not scheduled every day of the summer vacation, consider giving yourself and them a break. Just having down time or playing at home or the park with friends might help them generate their own enjoyment and happiness (and deal with the proverbial boredom perhaps).

Selfishly then, I might hear my favourite sounds of summer all over the neighbourhood. Children giggling, chattering, and playing is my favourite happiness sound bite. And like hearing returning songbirds in spring, I am unwittingly reassured once again that all of nature, left to its own devices, has its own schedule.

We only have to let it happen.

 

 

 

Kim Palfenier’s column is featured every second Wednesday in the Star sports section