In wondering if the less 'organised' activities children have, the more creative they are?

(34 Posts)
ilikeyoursleeves Fri 22-Mar-13 14:05:18

Just wondering this one and would be interested in others thoughts. I have 3 boys and they have never really done organised structured activities (as in paid classes etc). The most has been swimming lessons and my eldest did a baby /toddler music group when younger. We don't do anything at weekends other than visit family, hang out at home, play football in the garden, go shopping etc. They usually have at least one friend over to play a week.

My two eldest age 3 and 5 (the youngest is a baby) can spend hours and hours drawing, playing together and reading books and comics. The stuff they come up with is fab and IMHO very creative. I was talking to another mum recently who said her kids don't sit still so they do 8 activities a week! I sometimes feel bad that my kids don't do lots of classes but then I wonder if 'neglectful' parenting might actually be helping them to be creative and able to entertain themselves?

SuedeEffectPochette Fri 22-Mar-13 14:10:40

I think it is a great gift to children to be able to amuse themselves and work out what to do to entertain themselves. Hence I am on Mumsnet whilst my twins repeatedly watch Numberjacks!

IThinkOfHappyWhenIThinkOfYou Fri 22-Mar-13 14:14:58

You would have to do a shit load of activities to not have time to hang around and draw. Even my ultra sporty ds who spends upwards of 10 hours a week in leisure centres on top of homework and music practice can entertain himself for hours with craft or lego or whatever.

Trills Fri 22-Mar-13 14:16:29

YABU - you sound like you are trying to justify your choices by saying "the other choice is wrong" rather than "this is what suits us best".

Just because you make choice A, you don't have to say that there is anything wrong with choice B. It is just that choice A suits you and your children better.

You don't have to say that doing activities stifles creativity in order to feel better about not doing lot of activities.

Arabesque Fri 22-Mar-13 14:16:46

I think you have a point. Some children nowadays seem to get little or no time to just make up games, read, use their imaginations and be creative. I think some of it is down to too much organised activity, some of it is due to spending a lot of time in front of the television or computer screens and some of it is down to having so many wind up ready to go toys, gadgets, ready made costumes for dressing up and so on that they're often not left with the scope to have to use their imaginations to create something.

(But there was a thread on here a couple of weeks ago on a similar theme and some posters got very angry at the suggestion that too many windy up, all singing all dancing toys might leave little left to the children's imagination).

BrianCoxandTheTempleofDOOM Fri 22-Mar-13 14:17:13

'Neglectful'? hardly.

My DD goes to no organised activities whatsoever - she doesn't want to (i have tried with various activities but she is too like me and knows what she likes and is happier on her own terms)

I actually feel for both the parent and the child who have clubs/hobbies every single day - when is their downtime to just be normal or be bored? being bored is a valuable thing to understand, otherwise you spend your entire life looking for excitement and real life ain't like that!

However, I am sure it is down to the individual child and what it takes to keep them happy, some need extra stimulation whereas others are happy in their own environment. I dont believe there is a right or wrong way.

IslaValargeone Fri 22-Mar-13 14:18:33

My dc isn't really into structured activities. I practically have to drag her out of the house, although she goes to drama class without too much cajoling.
She spends hours inventing and making stuff and lots of ordinary things become 'events' almost. For example if we watch a nature thing on tv she rushes around to dress up David Attenborough stylee and brings all her stuffed animals with her. Dh thinks she's an odd ball, I prefer imaginative.

BrianCoxandTheTempleofDOOM Fri 22-Mar-13 14:19:46

meant to say, DD is never in the house - she plays out constantly with friends in out street. Old fashioned or what wink

DeWe Fri 22-Mar-13 14:22:01

I think you're overthinking this.
You have children who like to sit at home doing quiet activities. The other parent has children who like to do more active things with others. Neither is wrong, neither is neglectful or harmful to the child.
Different children like to do different things, and different parents have the patience for different things too.

And as they get older they may want to do more classes. And the siblings have to be creative and entertain themselves while the other does their activity.

BrianCoxandTheTempleofDOOM Fri 22-Mar-13 14:22:45

grin Isla - we went on hols to Skye last year, very nature oriented holiday. DD spent the entire holiday being either Kate Humble on Spring Watch or doing a Steve Backshall Deadly 60. the dogs were her crew and very willing they were too grin

ilikeyoursleeves Fri 22-Mar-13 14:25:35

I'm not saying there's a right or a wrong way either, I've just been thinking about this cos sometimes I think I should be doing more classes with my kids, there just seems to be pressure to get them into after school activity etc. And it got me wondering if they'd do as much playing and drawing etc if they did do lots of organised stuff. I know each child is different and I'm not at all saying the other choice is 'wrong'.

superpushymum Fri 22-Mar-13 14:26:28

I think YABU, my 3 year practices an instrument every day and goes to football twice a week, but he also loves reading and crafts, and plays with his lego and playmobil for hours. I think his activities encourage his creativity, not stifles it.

IslaValargeone Fri 22-Mar-13 14:30:00

Haha Brian, that sounds very familiar.
She's upstairs as I speak, trying to make a cravat and a grey wig from newspaper because she's channeling Beethoven at the moment.
Heard Moonlight Sonata the other day and wants to learn it. (She isn't even grade 1 yet grin )

aldiwhore Fri 22-Mar-13 14:33:30

I think there's a balance.

Answering your title alone, I think that children are at their most creative when allowed to BE creative, my field is Drama, and I have noticed that if you give NO structure at all, you get very little in the way of creative thinking, too much structure and the same result. The best results, enjoyment/creativity/devloping ideas usually come from a careful combo of structure, guidance and freedom/room for the child to move the stimulis forward themselves via discussion, play, group work or solo contemplation.

From your op I do agree that children can become self entertained if given the chance to do so, but that doesn't mean there's much wrong with out of school activities at all (though I do feel that the balance is off in many families, usually through the feeling that they ought to, there's HUGE competition amongst parents in our area - either to be completely self sufficient, or join as many groups as their are waking hours) with most of MY parenting I try and strike a balance between good things.

My children certainly benefit from the couple of clubs they belong to, from a social viewpoint and it's very good for them to mix with children who they don't go to school with. We also do not have weekends that have a set routine... we have few commitments (other than care of my FIL) at weekends and although we often go out for the day, we also have plenty of weekends where nothing is timetabled, and my children do entertain themselves happily once they understand I'm taking off my clown nose for the day!

Therefore OP I feel YABU for bolstering your good ways by putting down other perfectly good ways.

My children aren't keen on colouring in even though they can entertain themselves happily.

IslaValargeone Fri 22-Mar-13 14:34:03

We do know a child who does an activity every night after school, three clubs on a Saturday and one on a Sunday. Sometimes she looks so desperate to just hang out or do nothing. That kind of intense activity seems too much (in my opinion)

BrianCoxandTheTempleofDOOM Fri 22-Mar-13 14:34:20

grin Oo, she'll go far! DD currently has her heart set on starring in Les Mis, very loud she is too!

Wallison Fri 22-Mar-13 14:34:56

Do your kids want to go to organised activities? And do you have the time to facilitate that? I think those are the key questions as to whether or not they 'should'. Not all kids want to, and not all parents are able to allow for them in terms of time/money.

I don't know if there's a link with creativity or not. My son does a few activities - I suppose that compared to some kids his time is quite structured. But he can entertain himself very happily - he reads loads, and writes little stories and creates comics and instruction manuals for imaginary gadgets (mostly to do with time travel) builds creations out of junk, makes cities with lego etc so I don't think his creativity is hampered.

wordfactory Fri 22-Mar-13 14:37:31

I have twins.

One is the emperor of activity. A day doesn't go by without Lacrosse club or drama rehearsals or a singing lesson. Usually a club at lunchtime and one in the evening.

The other not so much.

The former is far more creative than the later.

Just their natures!!!

dixiechick1975 Fri 22-Mar-13 14:37:35

Your children are still young though.

In a couple of years then they are more likely to want to play for a football team, go to beavers (boy scouts) etc

There will still be time to play and amuse themselves.

KitchenandJumble Fri 22-Mar-13 14:38:06

I do think you have a point. IMO, children need unstructured time. The over-scheduled life can backfire spectacularly, developing a perceived need to be entertained 24/7. Frankly, I think it is absurd to send a 3-year-old to multiple structured activities. As children get older and discover various interests, a class here and there can be great fun. My own personal comfort level would be no more than two activities per week for the 7- to 12-year-old crowd. Creativity does thrive on free time to think, ponder, play with clay, draw, etc.

mrsbungle Fri 22-Mar-13 14:38:51

I agree with Aldi.

My DD is 3 and a half and does one swimming lesson, one ballet and one tap lesson per week. Whilst at nursery she also does dance and a half hour of spanish.

When at home (which she is 2 days per week with me and all weekend) she is painting, play doh ing, colouring. She loves play mobil too. I also think she is very creative.

There is definitely a balance to be struck and some kids, no doubt prefer a lot more of one thing or the other. DD likes a bit of both.

wordfactory Fri 22-Mar-13 14:39:50

aldi I was giving a workshop of just that earlier this week. That structure provides a framework for creativity. Endless choices often result in paralysis of artistic thinking grin

IslaValargeone Fri 22-Mar-13 14:43:30

I should have said grade 1 piano rather than school age. She's 11.

BoffinMum Fri 22-Mar-13 14:43:54

I caught my 3 year old and my 11 year old lying on their bellies on DS2's enjoying a pop video on YouTube which involved a lot of ladies' bottoms yesterday, having hacked into the parental controls. I can't decide whether than is creative or not.

alphablock Fri 22-Mar-13 14:44:23

Up until recently I would have said YABU. Every child is different and some will be more creative than others, some will like structured activities, some won't etc.

However, I was surprised recently at a friend's house when her DS kept complaining of being bored and her DD kept asking her mum to suggest ideas of what to play. My DD who is the same age (8) was bemused as she has a long list of favourite make believe games, but the other children seemed to want more adult involvement/structure. My friend and I both work part time, but my friend relies more heavily on afterschool/holiday clubs/activities as she likes to ensure she has plenty of child-free time, whilst I try to maximise the time I spend with my daughter.

Having said that, my DD may be more creative as she is an only child and has to amuse herself, whilst my friends twins may need more structure because they are different genders and are starting to have fewer activities that they both enjoy doing.

IThinkOfHappyWhenIThinkOfYou Fri 22-Mar-13 14:45:10

My 9yo probably has the same time to be bored as your 5yo as most of his pool time is after a 5yo's bedtime.

BackforGood Fri 22-Mar-13 14:52:59

Wht Trills and DeWE said on P1.

That said, I opened this expecting you to be talking about 10 yr olds.
Mine didn't go to any structured activity / lesson / group / class until they started swimming lessons - at pre-school / toddler / baby stages, those groups are there for the parents to meet other parents, not because the dc 'need them'

However, 1 of my dc had to be taken out and "exercised" every day from whenhe could toddle until into his teens - that's the way he was, nothing to do with creativity. The next one could sit and amuse herself much better, but she's not creative in the slightest - more of a problemsolver / maths / scientific person. My eldest (who had to get out the house every day) is the one who is into dram and music.

You're massivly overthinking this IMO. Do what suits you and your dc, and let others do what suits them. Neither is right or wrong.

KitchenandJumble Fri 22-Mar-13 14:57:09

I also think that the constant supervision that exists these days may play a role in the rise of "Queen Bee" behaviour at younger and younger ages. When every moment of their day is filled with structured activities, children are left without the tools to negotiate their own relationships. The result is that they don't know how to cope with friendships, how to solve minor problems or resolve disagreements, and so ordinary friendship groups turn into hotbeds of power plays. And it can lead to conflict, hurt feelings, even bullying.

Obviously, there is more to these situations than the rise of the helicopter parent and the overly structured lives some children live. But I do think it is a connection that really hasn't been explored.

babybythesea Fri 22-Mar-13 14:58:14

The other thing is that sometimes a couple of extra activities can give a bit more 'experience' for the child to draw on when imagining their own games.

Dd is four.
As well as nursery, she does a swimming class (which I instigated) and a ballet class (which she asked to go to) each week.
She has plenty of time to potter round at home creating mess which I have only just tidied up being imaginative and I've noticed that some of her teddies now attend ballet classes as part of her make-believe games with them. They also put on dance shows (although she's never been involved in one of these) using her rudimentary ballet knowledge to tell stories of her own devising. So she's clearly using the extra activities as inspiration for her imaginative games.

I think, as others have said, it partly comes down to the child and their nature. Some children have more energy than others for example. I know I was told when dd started nursery full-time that she would be exhausted at the end of each day - I was hopefuly but not a bit of it, so doing a couple of extra bits is quite useful to help me manage her energy a bit! Other kids probably do get wiped out after a full day at school or nursery and might not need or want the extra stuff.

And I also think there's a balance - most people I know don't fill the child's entire waking schedule with activities but do a couple of bits a week. Find the medium that suits you best.

I have two (older) kids, one by nature needs to keep busy. He is much happier when he has something to do, somewhere to go. The other is content sitting and entertaining himself for hours. They are both very creative but in different ways. The older (busy) kid does things like making locks and grandfather clock mechanisms out of lego and take photos, the less busy one likes to draw and paint and sculpt and do origami.

In our house the amount of creative time increases with less TV and computer games, not organised activities. TV and video games are a huge time suck that make my kids disinterested in most other things.

InSearchOfPerfection Fri 22-Mar-13 15:03:50

My dcs didn't do any 'structured' activities at 3 and 5yo either apart from... oh yes swimming.

As they grew older, they have asked to do X or Y after school. There isn't a day when we don't do something now.

But none of them ever read books at that age (I did read to them though). Nor did they like to draw or have they been very artistic either.

You are thinking too much there. Your dcs do that because they enjoy it and because of their own temperament.
If you had had 2 very active dcs, you might have looked around more to find some activities 'to tired them out' because otherwise, your dcs would have climbed up the wall or you would have spent a huge amount of time frozen at the park.
Granted if you 'occupy' them all the time, they will never do that. but it's not because they have that time that they do iyswim.

Yfronts Fri 22-Mar-13 15:07:13

My kids generally are always grabbing a few minutes here and there (before school etc) to play or create. What I have noticed is that my kids get on THE best when they are refreshed (through having a few days off school) and have time just to hag out.

However I think there is a balance. We do two clubs for the eldest because he loves them - swimming and banjo. I think its excellent for kids to have a regular commitment to exercise (to take into adulthood) and secondly swimming is such an amazing skill to have.

We never did clubs as kids yet I was absolutely desperate to to something and specifically learn to dance. Never happened as a child sadly and was quite hard to get into as an adult. I wouldn't say we were more creative because we had less clubs. We didn't have many books about and I was on my own most of the time with very little parental interest.

I think it is possible to have too many clubs and have too much timetabled time though.

If you had had 2 very active dcs, you might have looked around more to find some activities 'to tired them out' because otherwise, your dcs would have climbed up the wall or you would have spent a huge amount of time frozen at the park.

I have one of those and yes, those were my choices (albeit not frozen). I spent many hours sat with a young baby/toddler at a park while my older one burned off energy that would be put to no good at home if not. Plenty of sporty organised activities saved our sanities. We also had lots of sporty activity things to do at home where he jumped and spun and threw heavy things into bushes.

kelda Fri 22-Mar-13 15:48:17

My dd1 is nine and she has always been very active and lively. As other posters have said, keeping her busy with structured activities and lots of walking has saved our sanities - dancing, swimming, rollerskating, music - sometimes all of those things twice a week.

When she is at home, she mainly draws pictures and does stretching exercises on the gym mat. She does not take after me in the slightest! She enjoys reading at night in bed.

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