Saturday, March 24, 2007

Do Teens Have Enough Time to Develop a Healthy Social Life? By Katy E. Age 13

Do teens have enough time to develop a healthy social life? Are homework and extra-curricular activities getting in the way of kids learning about themselves and the world around them? These are the questions that haunt many people today including parents, well-known scientists, educators and authors. [November 26th, Parents, give children time to climb trees, day dream] Even the American Academy of Pediatrics recently stated, “free and unstructured play is healthy and - in fact - essential for helping children reach important social, emotional, and cognitive developmental milestones as well as helping them manage stress and become resilient.” Teens need a break from their busy schedules.

My mom knows how important doing the things I like to do is for my growth and development. Being homeschooled loosens my schedule for free time. I have time everyday to go for a run, read, draw, or just think. We carefully choose my activities so that I am not overbooked. This, I believe, has helped my socialization in many ways. First of all, I have time to contemplate my feelings so I can help my friends who may be experiencing the same feelings or ideas that may be confusing to them. I also have more time to explore different activities to see which ones fit my personality.

Homework and scheduled extra-curricular activities are a large reason why kids are not getting enough time to themselves. My friend Abby F., 13, of Glen Ellyn, Illinois, a public school student, complains, "I never really get any time to lie on the bed and think because I have so much homework.” Another friend, Mackenzie S., 11, Glen Ellyn, Illinois, a private school student comments, “ I am not allowed to have any play dates from the beginning of school to Christmas; only homework get-togethers.” She goes on to say that she only has thirty minutes of free time every night, and that is not enough time to do anything that she really likes to do. Although kids do get social time they still are not getting enough time to just hang out and talk with each other.
Good socialization leads to healthy relationships and the key to good socialization is getting to know who you are today. Reading, drawing, running, journaling and reflecting are good ways to spend time with your self. If you do not have the time to spend (on yourself), then you really cannot learn who you are. Elkind, author of the classic book 'The Hurried Child' says, "Free play is a way children create new learning experiences for themselves.” If kids have time to discover without being graded or judged they can become more open-minded to the world around them.

In conclusion, teens can develop a good social life by having unstructured time to hang out with friends at the park, the library, or the mall. Teens need to loosen their schedules so they can spend more quality time with themselves doing the things they enjoy, while exploring new horizons. I believe everyone would gain immensely if kids had time to discover and reflect. For this leads to a better society, for the teens of today are in fact the adults of tomorrow.