Did you hear the youthful shouts of joy echoing throughout Warren County the other day? It can only mean that another school year is over and summer vacation has begun! The coming months present some wonderful opportunities for growth and development in young people. A balance of constructive time and free time is a winning combination for the warm days ahead.
Constructive time Young people need to learn what they're good at, and how they can make a positive difference in the lives around them. This is how they gain self-esteem and confidence. Making time for organized activities ensures that young people will learn about their world through experience, which is the best teacher of all. Search Institute suggests several promising avenues to explore for constructive use of time: creative activities, like music, theater, or other arts; youth programs, like sports, clubs, or organizations; and religious community activities. Constructive activities don't always have to be official programs, either. Time at home is important, too. Consider sharing a hobby or working on a project with a young person you care about.
Free time Young people need rest too, and most people who thoroughly study this topic have concluded that most young people aren't well rested or get enough sleep. It is also important for brain function and comprehension that youth have some time to "recharge." Cultural pressures often compel adults to overload young people's schedules, but young people also have a need to simply "be."
Summer Vacation 2012 has some wonderful times in store for youth in Warren County. An intentional balance of constructive time and free time will ensure that young people get the most out of it.
Ian Eastman, M.A., is a community educator with Family Services of Warren County. Go to www.fswc.org to subscribe to its new Family Services Parenting E-news-a free, once-monthly dose of inspiration and tips to promote the health and well-being of your family.