Just in time for summer vacation, I bring you Chapter Five: Schedules. I think the timing of this chapter couldn't be better. Summer is a shift in our lives, whether becuase school is our or simply because we are out (outside) more, gardening and exploring. And while the scheduled portion of our family's time looks much the same in summer as in winter, I believe we are the exception rather than the rule. Judging by the number of kids enrolled in sports and camps and summer school and other activities around here we are. What a perfect chapter to get centered and look at the coming season from a fresh perspective.
Simplicity Parenting, Kim John Payne
Chapter Five: Schedules
I am surely not the best person to be hosting this part of the conversation. My children's schedule are likely among the most mellow in the state. We have a few activities scheduled throughout each week, and our time is marked by rhythm rather than activities, by self-directed learning rather than events or entertainment.
So yes, I found myself nodding a great deal during this chapter because it was in line with what we've already done. Some baffling statistics from this unschooling mama were regarding the amount of homework the average school child has today, and the loss of free time. Payne notes that in the 80's, when I was a kid, the average unschedule time during waking hours was 40%. Today it has shrunken to 25%. That doesn't leave much room for childhood.
Payne addresses the importance of boredom. I was tickled to read this bit, since I have advocated for bordeom in my own kids for some time. (See bullet four here.) In truth, Sage, now nearing nine gets it. "Oooh! I'm bored. That's good… I wonder what I'm going to think of to do. It's gonna be good!" Really. We've had this conversation again and again. And he's right. It is good.
One piece I apprecaite the most was on balancing schedules. The "C"-calm days as a counterpoint to the "A"-active days. My highly-sensitive self insures this for my kids since we do everything together. We keep each day balanced, and each week balanced in the bigger picture. I need it, they need it, so we've unconsciously carved this balnce into our own rhythm.
Regarding the sports discussing, I found that whole section of the chapter bordering on disturbing. That children are "specializing" at a young age is downright creepy to me. Kids are here to play. For fun. Not to become a superstar. I was on the all-time losing softball team as a kid. And it was awesome. We never won a game. And we thought it was sort of funny. There were no shouting coaches or away games, no pressure to perform. Just some girls in blue and yellow t-shirts playing ball. While Lupine took ballet last season Sage has never been interested in sports of any kind, except those we play with friends in the backyard (normally involving some motorcycle helments and funny costumes). So again, we have dodged the scheduling bullet just by the natiure of our personalities.
What about you? Are your children scheduled into special activities throughout the year? How do you insure that their schedule is balanced and that they are feeding their souls with unscheduled free time?