MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — School is out for the summer for most kids across Minnesota and that means it’s time to start ramping up the activities, like organized baseball, swimming, dance and piano — or all of the above.

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At a park in Champlain, parents listed off the scheduled events for their kids. One family even had to leave the baseball game early to head to a piano lesson. One father said his boys were involved in football, baseball, flag football, and soccer.

“It keeps everybody happy, busy, out of the trouble,” said one father. “They’re used to the routines.”

Children have less free time than they did a year ago. According to a study from the University of Minnesota and a National Institutes of Health study, in 1981, kids ages 6-12 had 57 hours of free time a week.

By 1997, that dropped to 50 hours and by 2003 it fell to 48. Experts think it’s likely fallen even further.

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Toni Schutta is a parenting coach with Get Help Parenting Now. She believes we are overscheduling out kids.

“Yes, undeniably,” she said.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, unstructured free time is healthy and essential for a child’s development.

Schutta says organized sports and activities are good for children. She recommends children partake in two activities a season.

“Absolutely, and that’s really important for their self-esteem, what we’re looking for is a balance,” she said.

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She believes more structured activities mean sleep deprivation, overuse injuries and a less quality time with family, a major protective factor for a child.

Heather Brown