Family Matters #4 : Constructive Use of Time

Image by Seattle Parks & Recreation is licensed under CC BY 2.0

By Lucia Ferrara

Do your children engage in creative activities like painting, drawing, learning an instrument or even being a part of a theater club? The answers may be different for each family. As my children grew, I had each one in a different activity outside of school. In school they all were or all still involved in such groups like student council, art club, robotics, tennis, soccer and basketball. Outside of school, they were involved in church groups, Boys Scouts, and violin and piano lessons.

When youth make constructive use of their time, they are more likely to thrive now and in the future.

According to the Search Institute, creative activities are one of many aspects that support and provide opportunities and relationships with young people called, “External Assets.” For example, giving my oldest son the opportunity to join Cub Scouts at an early age, was an asset to him. Through the scouting activities, he learned and developed new skills, and I don’t mean just the skills he needed learn to earn badges. He also learned the value of hard work, self-esteem, responsibility and service. As important, he shared these interests with other youth and adults. One of my proudest moment as a parent was when he earned his Eagle Scout Badge while in high school! It’s quite an achievement for a young man.

All the articles in the Family Matters Series can be found here: Family Matters.

It is recommended that young people — no matter what age and even those as young as 3 years old — spend three or more hours a week in some kind of activity outside of school. Creative activities may include things like joining a youth program at church or a club or sports that are organized outside of school.

Everyday asset building also involves spending time doing creative activities together as a family. For example, designate Friday nights as “family fun nights.” Activities could be playing miniature golf together and then grabbing ice-cream. Or going to a movie and getting pizza. Taking a hike on a nearby trail is great as a family activity too! This will allow for good communication with each other and perhaps cut out some social media time!

Image by Valéria Rodrigues Valéria from Pixabay

Learning a musical instrument mental enhances young people’s mental, social and emotional development.

Encouraging your children to be involved in at least one hobby is important. For example, my daughter who’s also my oldest child, started playing the violin at age 5. She was interested in the instrument and the beautiful music it produces, so we enrolled her in the Music Arts Institute in our community and have since watched her talent bloom from playing “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” to performing classical pieces from Mozart. Research has shown that music helps develop our brains.

According to Robert Myers, a clinical child and adolescent psychologist and author of Total Focus and The Well-Balanced Family, “Music is an important ingredient for child development and parent-child relationships.” Meyer explains that playing an instrument increases “the switchboard” in the center of brain connectivity. This impacts social and emotional development as well.

I hope that I have enlightened you on some developmental assets needed for our youth to thrive in this world today.

I will leave you with some questions you can reflect on until our next Family Matters article.

1. Why should my family develop creative activities?
2. Do you have regular outings with your children where they can go outdoors to play and explore?
3. How do we as a family and community build a culture of creativity?

Until next time.

[Lucia Ferrara, the Director of Hospitality at Precious Blood Renewal Center and the lead organizer here of Parent Cafes. Share your thoughts with Lucia or ask her questions at info@pbrenewalcenter.org. Read more about the Parent Café here.]

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Top image by Seattle Parks & Recreation is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Guitar image by Valéria Rodrigues Valéria from Pixabay