Less Structured Time and Activities, leads to Kids who are Achievers

Life has it’s own structure and there is noting fixed and certain. We all know that, and yet parents very often try to discipline their kids with leading a very structured life full of structured time table and structured activity. However University of Colorado has come up with a study which says that children involved in less structured activities are better able to set their own goals, take decision and act confidently, without looking for push from parents.

outdoor-play-areaThe study, shows that kids who involve in more structured activities— like soccer practice, piano lessons and homework—had poorer self-directed executive function, which  is indicative of the ability to set and reach end desired result independently.

Executive function helps kids in different ways like flexibly switching between different tasks rather than getting bogged down by one, to stopping ones self from shouting when angry, to postponing gratification. Executive function in childhood also indicative of outcomes, like health, wealth, academic performance and criminality which surfaces years later.

Its an ongoing debate on who is correct, strict mothers on one side and more elastic parents on the other. However there is no scientific evidence to support one claim or other.

ongoing debate on who is correct, strict mothers on one side and more elastic parents on the other.

As part of the study, seventy parents of six year old, took a note of their kid’s daily activities for a week. Researchers then classified those activities as more structured or less structured. Structured activities include non-physical lessons, chores, religious activities and physical lessons. Less-structured activities include social outings, media time, free play with others, reading and sightseeing. Activities that did not count in either category were going to school, sleeping, commuting and eating meals. The children also were evaluated for self-directed executive function with a commonly used verbal fluency test.

The results showed that the more time children spent in less structured activities, the better were the scores of their self-directed executive function. Conversely, the more time children spent in more structured activities the poorer their self-directed executive function score were. The team is currently considering a longitudinal study, which would follow participants over time, to begin to answer the question of cause in a more convincing way.


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