By Megan Bean

Back in February, I came across an interesting article titled “The Busy Trap.”  In it, the author, Tim Kreidal, expresses his opinion on how everyone here in America seems to have this innate desire to be busy, and I wanted to share some of his insights, and how they apply to children’s need for free time, and time to play.

In this day and age, it’s almost like being busy is a badge of honor, you feel important and sought-after when you’re busy. You feel like you’re constantly accomplishing when you’re busy. Oftentimes, this busyness is self-imposed. Perhaps it’s because of the honor, or perhaps it’s because of an intrusive guilt for feeling like you’re not productive enough. Either way, our busyness is rarely out of necessity. Kreidal points this out, saying, “Busyness serves as a kind of existential reassurance, a hedge against emptiness; obviously your life cannot possibly be silly or trivial or meaningless if you are so busy, completely booked, in demand every hour of the day.” 

But what does this have to do with kids and our school? Well, Kreidal says this in his article:

“Even children are busy now, scheduled down to the half-hour with classes and extracurricular activities. They come home at the end of the day as tired as grown-ups. I was a member of the latchkey generation and had three hours of totally unstructured, largely unsupervised time every afternoon, time I used to do everything from surfing the World Book Encyclopedia to making animated films to getting together with friends in the woods to chuck dirt clods directly into one another’s eyes, all of which provided me with important skills and insights that remain valuable to this day. Those free hours became the model for how I wanted to live the rest of my life.”

He succinctly states one of the things that is so important about the way we do things here at Alpine Valley Academy. Children are given free time here, not just to figure things out through throwing dirt clods in each other’s eyes, or by figuring out time management, but by learning the value of not being busy. 

Being able to take a moment (or a few) to be idle is crucial to our mental health. And for children, who need to be able to learn about the world around them, it is so important to be able to take a step back from it all, breath, and figure out what on earth is going on around them. It is through these idle moments that children can process their world and begin to understand it. And not only that, but these moments can give them a chance to rest, so that they can have the energy to take on the rest of their day, week, or life. 

That’s one of the reasons why we believe in play, and why we let the students decide when they need to be productive and when they need to take a step back and rest.

Published March 15, 2021

1 Comment

Anna · March 23, 2021 at 12:29 am

“Throwing dirt clods in each other’s eyes.” That’s awesome. My observation at the school last week was that everyone was doing what they felt they should be doing, and it varied so widely, but it all seemed as it should be. I loved seeing that. Great article!

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