By Ray Lynch

“And He said to them, ‘Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a while.’” Mark 6:31 (NASB).

Studies have found that 30 percent of students with average to above average IQs struggle in school. Brenda Lana, the owner of Pathfinders, a California company that helps develop the underlying processing skills of children, says one reason is that kids are over programmed.

Kids are often participating in multiple activities that according to Brenda, “puts them on a fast moving treadmill that leaves them little time for being children.” As a result, Brenda says play, nutrition, down time, sleep and priorities are coming up short in many kids’ lives, which hinders the development of their mental and emotional processing skills.

Unfortunately, the things that Brenda lists as being harmful to children’s development are also things that are hurting the family finances.

Brenda tells us that going out in the backyard and finding something to do is a very valuable experience for children. Inventing games with friends, building things, or just playing with the dog are all part of the mental and emotional growth process. Play is very different today. Many parents have substituted child-lead play with organized activities where adults lead and children do as they are instructed. Registration fees, special shoes, equipment bags, $60 to $70 a week for gas and fast food dinners all adds up to very expensive play.

Because these activities result in more time away from home, the second loss on Brenda’s list, nutrition, also occurs. There are more stops for fast food, which is the opposite of good “brain” nutrition according to Brenda.

A previous neighbor with three daughters limited each of them to one extra curriculum activity per year, which allowed them to eat dinner together most nights and for the girls to have adequate down time and sleep. If your children are over programmed, consider eliminating some of their activities and slow down.