The Benefits of Unstructured Time For Children

The 2020-21 school year is well underway and “classrooms” look a lot different this year. With split schedules and virtual learning as the new norm, parents have been having a particularly difficult time dealing with all of these uncharted waters. With flex schedules, you might have
noticed that your child has more unstructured time than usual – but this isn’t always a bad thing! Unstructured time for children can actually provide some benefits to help your child’s growth.

Incorporate Self-Directed Play

Self-directed play is a wonderful skill for children to develop. It sparks their creativity and imagination. Self-directed play doesn’t have to have any structure. It’s an open-ended form of play that encourages children to become independent and creative. It’s also is a great way to use unscheduled time because your child is still learning (in a less obvious way). Being creative can also help your child destress from whatever school work they still have to complete via e-learning.

It’s OK To Be Bored Sometimes

There are millions of activities that your child can partake in when they are not completing school work. It’s important to teach your child to not only embrace this time but also leave it up to them to entertain themselves. By doing this, they will be able to discover the activities they truly enjoy. Your child will never know how to handle boredom if you are always providing a structured solution. Teaching them at a young age to find ways to entertain themselves with activities they enjoy is an excellent way to make sure they have a strong foundation.

Encourage ‘Out Of The Box” Thinking

Lastly, remember that a little bit of daydreaming is okay! Research actually shows that daydreaming can lead to creativity and “out of the box” thinking. This is another great benefit of having more unstructured time in an e-learning environment. Daydreaming can also help improve your child’s memory. Provide structure during blocks of learning but know when it’s time to take a break to enhance their focus.

While we might not have all the answers for some time, it’s important to do the best you can with what you have. Let go of perfectionism! Remember that you don’t have to have a plan for every minute of the day. Children are naturally creative and allowing them to harness this creativity can be one of the silver linings found in these challenging times. We can help!