Give kids plenty of time to just have fun this summer says child expert. (Pexels photo)
The kids may still be basking in that last day of school excitement, but for parents, keeping them busy for the next 60 days is top of mind.
In an era of helicopter parenting where a child’s activities are planned to the last minute, there is a move afoot to give more time to just be a kid in the summer.
Lori Davies is a social worker with a Masters Degree and does psychotherapy for kids in Muskoka. She says while the thinking is that kids are over-programmed in the summer, that is not what she is seeing in cottage country.
“I do think that some families do keep their children busy and other families are less structured,” said Davies. “That’s kind of my view not across the board.”
She says after a busy school year with sports activities and music lessons, a chance for kid to hang out with friends, do crafts or watch some movies is okay.
“I do believe that kids need a little bit less structured time but there still needs to be some routine,” she offered. “But not back to back activities and things like that. There needs to be some down time where they can just kind of take it a little bit easy and they don’t have to be always wound up preparing for the next activity.”
She sometimes needs to offer some perspective to parents who are keen to fill the calendar with activities.
“I do see that and we do have conversations with them about that and I do try to give them a bit of a caution,” said Davies. The message is basically leave the schedule open for unscheduled fun.
“I think probably a few hours a day,” she said. “I know parents have to work and children need to be cared for and often that looks like camp.”
A lot of kids end up going to a series of day or overnight camps. Davies is all for that, but not for the whole summer and parents need to gauge how suitable the sleepover camps are for their kids.
“Some kids thrive and really like it and other kids it is very stressful for them,” she said. “A child that is a little bit more anxious, a child that is more introverted and it’s really difficult for them to be in social situations a (parent should) be thinking about a day camp versus an overnight camp.”
She says the romantic notion that every kids needs to go to camp to have a complete childhood is perhaps a bit dated now.
“It is a bit of a myth that every kid needs to go to camp,” Davies offered. “It’s not for certain personalities, it’s not a good experience for them.”