Madeline Levine, SF Gate, August 10, 2012
"Counterintuitive as it seems, the very things we're doing to secure our children's futures can end up compromising them. Pushing and over-scheduling prevent them from becoming competent adults capable of the resilience, perseverance, motivation and grit that business leaders say they'll need to compete in tomorrow's workforce. Just as importantly, it interferes with the ability to cultivate healthy relationships and to feel that life is meaningful.
"Many parents have significant misunderstandings about how children learn and what circumstances are likely to drive success in them. Our (culturally sanctioned) faulty thinking is pushing us to do, in many cases, the exact opposite of what kids need to thrive.
"Studies show that kids enrolled in academic-based preschools actually tend to fall behind their peers who attend play-based preschools by the fourth grade.
"Self-directed play is the work of childhood. It's a classroom in which kids develop a whole set of skills that really matter in life. Consider what happens in a simple game of chase: Kids must agree on the game and cooperate with each other. They must determine who will be the leader, who will be the follower and when it's time to renegotiate. When we fill their days with classes, practices and games, there's just no time left for learning these critical lessons.
"Most experts agree that kids should have twice as much unstructured free time as structured playtime. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends at least 60 minutes a day. If they can get that 60 minutes outdoors - climbing trees, chasing fireflies or playing baseball in an empty lot - so much the better."