There has been much (negative) discussion on children being "over scheduled", directed towards "structured play" and given too many toys that have a "pre-determined purpose".
These are compared to the "good ol' days" where children did not have "schedules" (baseball games spontaneously erupted from a bat, ball, and enough neighborhood kids), were not directed towards any play, really, so they had to make up their own play ("imaginative play"), and were not given toys such as a Leap Frog or baby "ball popper" game (they had to make up a game like tag, freeze or build a fort).
Some of the research says that the more free-for-all, creative, imaginative play actually helps kids learn self-regulation, which is important in helping them control their emotions, resist impulses and exert self-control and discipline.
The structured, scheduled classes, teams, lessons...even the toys with only one, pre-determined purpose...may lessen the child's ability to self-regulate, because there is always an adult to regulate them. Even the imaginative play isn't so imaginative, as the example given: kids used to find a stick in the backyard, and play swords. Now, kids are given a Star Wars light saber and re-enact scenes from the movie.
There are many reasons for these changes, as we could all site that the times have changed, unfortunately, with safety issues: we don't let our kids wonder around the neighborhood looking for a "pick-up game" of basketball. The structured time is to help our kids achieve certain skills, and also allow us time to cook meals!
Of course, there is always a good balance that is ideal to achieve: between structured play and imaginative play; between over-scheduled and under-scheduled. What has been your experience with your kids, related to this topic, and have you seen any differences in their ability to "self-regulate" compared to other children?
You can read more on this topic at NPR:
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