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Use Unstructured Summer Time To Build Executive Functioning Skills

Children Using Executive Functioning Skills in PlayLetting your children spend more time on less structured activities this summer just might help them build a brighter future. A study by the University of Colorado Boulder found that children who spend more time in unstructured activities, such as reading, free-play alone or with friends, and sight-seeing were better able to set and meet goals without adult assistance.

Goal setting and attainment require executive functioning skills, the same skills we look to build in academics by teaching students how to prioritize work, manage time, and delay gratification to achieve a later result. It turns out maybe the best teaching method is to stop teaching and give your child unstructured time.

Summer is the perfect time to give your child the freedom to stretch their executive functioning skills. Removing the rigidity of a school schedule and academic requirements gives your child needed time to explore and makes it easier for you, as the parent, to stand back and let them figure things out.

Use our list of summer activities that build executive skills to get your child started, or even better, let them come up with their own ideas.

Helicopter parenting has been demonized in the news, but so has the hands-off “free-range” parenting. Finding the correct balance between parental structure and child independence is a continual dance that used to be called growing up. Whatever your parenting style, be it nervous nelly or laissez-faire, use this summer to treat your child and yourself to some unstructured time. You both just might learn something.

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