You want it all. You want the best for your family, especially your kids. You want them to be exposed to opportunities that were denied to you when you were growing up. Hey, we get it. The problem is, do your kids get it?
According to blogger Rebecca Cooper, probably not. Instead, she's opting for a less complicated form of child-rearing by leading a simple life that's easier for her kids to absorb. Apparently Cooper got her Eureka! moment one day when she and her friends went for a nature hike and discovered the serenity in removing all the layers of complexity that otherwise coats the lives of her family.
She didn't have to dispatch oodles of text messages or painstakingly schedule that downtime. Instead, she called her kids and a budding mother for an outdoor get-together and that was that.
"With kids being carted from one activity to the next, the days of kids being kids and playing all day long has been erased from our society’s collective memory," wrote Cooper in her blog Simple As That. "We’ve devalued what children need most and replaced it with excessive adult control."
It turns out she has no shortage of psychologists in her corner, especially David Elkind, who published a report claiming kids are being short-changed weekly up to eight hours of playtime. Given the pressure for future generations to perform in an increasingly competitive global landscape, psychologists are claiming that the push for earlier education and rigorous scheduling of childhood activities is devaluing the intrinsic value of simple playtime.
Psychologists like Elkind argue that children are more likely to learn through more activity-oriented pursuits than being lectured or shown flashcards in class. It's a position that runs counter to educators who dismiss play as an unproductive waste of time.
"The real problem is not that we don't know what's good pedagogy for children," Elkind says. "It's that we don't use what we know."
For her part, Cooper believes its the result of the FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) syndrome, in that any attention diverted to playtime detracts from any educational opportunities that might benefit those children. The belief is that if children can learn to read and do basic arithmetic by the time they get to kindergarten, they'll have a leg up on previous generations and be much more able to grasp more complex subject matter down the road.
Cooper thinks however, that the approach instills an element of fear in parents that an increased focus on playtime will impede their children's intellectual development. FOMO implies that kids will lose out to those who are leading lives that stress intellect. But she says those kids in FOMO households will wind up being the losers, by hampered development in socializing and creativity skills, as well as experiencing the emotional enjoyment of just having fun.
Says Cooper, "It takes a leap of faith and a brave parent to trust that simplifying our children’s lives and giving them down time to play, connect with their families, and create simple joy is what our kids really need. "