As parents, it is easy to worry about providing children with resources, but free time is the best possible resource you can provide for your child – and it is free! Children need free time to explore their world, develop ideas, and understand things that they observe.
Giving kids free time is a wonderful way to help them discover hobbies. Emma spends a lot of time taking pictures with our little digital camera, and she has learned to pay attention to light, shadows, and how she frames her pictures.
Free time also provides the space children need to explore boundaries. Emma and Johnny recently got together and devised this alternative menu for our family. We didn’t end up eating their menu, but it was fun to see them come up with candy alternatives to foods we really do eat!
Unstructured free time sets imagination free! Four-year-old Lily recently discovered that fingers make excellent pretend people – and I remember doing the same as a child. What a wonderful thing, to discover that you don’t need special toys or props to enter a make believe world!
Free time is important for adults, as well! We need unstructured time to decompress, think about things that have happened, contemplate ideas, and mindfully plan how we want to make the most of our life. I find that free time is something I have to consciously schedule into our lives, and that it works best when we have large blocks of time when we are either at home or in nature. We also create free time by limiting electronic distractions – television, email, phones, internet and even my camera! Technology is wonderful, but it can easily take over our lives!
What benefits do you see in making unstructured free time a part of daily life? How do make time for this precious resource in our busy modern world?