Kids Need Time To Decompress

Now that school is out, there has been lots of articles written about whether or not to rank students and have Valedictorians.  We push our kids so hard with homework, studying for tests, extracurricular activities leaving very little time for kids to “be kids.”  Socialization is a much overlooked developmental area, as is recess.  The concept of play is critical to a child’s development, and this can be physical or mental.

Recently, I came across an article that truly fascinated me.   Titled, “Why Daydreaming Isn’t a Waste of Time,” it talks about the research of University of Southern California education professor Mary Helen Immordino-Yang, who believes that adults need to teach children the value of “the more diffuse mental activity that characterizes our inner lives: daydreaming, remembering, reflecting.”

That’s right, there is value in “introspection.”  Some of the most famous people who ever inhabited the earth:   Einstein, Edison, Newton – they all daydreamed from time to time, some who actually scheduled it into their daily rituals.  From one passage in the article:

Ironically, a lack of time to daydream may even hamper kids’ capacity to pay attention when they need to. The ability to become absorbed in our own thoughts is linked to our ability to focus intently on the world outside, research indicates. In one recent neuro-imaging study, for example, participants alternated periods of mental rest with periods of looking at images and listening to sounds. The more effectively the neural regions associated with “looking in” were activated during rest and deactivated while attending to the visual and auditory stimuli, the more engaged were the brain’s sensory cortices in response to sights and sounds.

Like everything else we do in our lives, we have to strike a balance with all of our activities.   Parents are as guilty as children in this area, and so it is important for parents to do effective role modeling.   So before you over-schedule your kids, keep in mind a child’s need to “decompress” and reflect.   If we let our children daydream a little, they might become the next Einstein, Edison or Jobs.  That’s not such a bad thing!

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