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Let your children play…its good for the brain!

If you want your child to grow up and take charge of his life fast then encourage him to engage in less structured activities like free play. To know why read a report published in Frontiers in Psychology by the University of Colorado Boulder.

The study states that children involved in structured activities like soccer practice, piano lessons and homework, are less adept at setting and reaching goals independently. Or, they had poorer “self-directed executive function.”

Executive function helps children in a variety of ways says Professor Yuko Munakata at the university like enabling them to flexibly switch between different activities, restraining themselves from screaming when angry and delaying gratification. Executive function during childhood also influences academic performance, health, wealth and criminality, years and even decades later.”

In the study 70 parents recorded their 6-year-old children’s daily activities for a week. These were then categorized by the scientists as more structured or less structured. Activities like chores, physical lessons, non-physical lessons and religious prayers were classified as structured. Free play alone and with others, social outings, sightseeing, reading and media time were defined as non-structured.

The more time children devoted to less structured activities, the better was their self-directed executive function. The converse was just as true: children who spent a great deal of time on structured activities showed poorer self-directed executive function.

“This isn’t perfect, but it’s a first step,” said Munakata. “Our results are really suggestive and intriguing. Now we’ll see if it holds up as we push forward and try to get more information.”

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