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Education Dean Carolyn Shields weighs in on what kids should do over the summer

June 27, 2013

As schools across the country close their doors this week, and children are free for two months, parents are once again making choices about what's best for their kids: a free-range summer or structured activities, whether it be classes or camp. On each side of the debate are experts with strongly held opinions. Some educators believe we should allow kids to play freely - and allow them to be bored and figure out what to do with that boredom. They believe there is something to be said for balancing the knowledge children acquire 10 months of the year with some downtime to help their minds relax and function better come September. "Middle-class families tend to over-structure kids' times, and schedule a whole lot of sports camps and summer activities. I think kids need time just to play around, to be creative, to be bored, to reflect, to figure out who they are and what they're interested in," said Carolyn Shields, dean of the College of Education at Wayne State University. "I think if we're always putting them in structured activities that can't happen."