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January 19, 2017

New research shows that unscheduled free time can stimulate imagination and creativity, while making kids more self-sufficient.

According to Dr. Sam Wass, a child psychologist based at Cambridge University, children “do their best learning” during unscheduled down-time, or what he called “Recommended Daily Allowance of Free Time.”

Children should have three hours of unstructured time each weekday and six hours each day during the weekend, according to the study.

In order to help kids reach their weekly allotment of free time, Wass suggested a three-pronged approach: First, children should be encouraged to spend as much time outside playing as possible. Second, Wass suggested scheduling playtime for children after school to make sure that they are not burned out from too many activities.

And lastly, Wass recommended that families spend weekends with “unscheduled family time,” perhaps exploring a new destination together or spending an open-ended day venturing around town.

In order to find time to “unschedule time,” Wass said that parents should limit the hours kids spend in front of a screen and increase time spent playing outside.

Parents looking for ways to brings kids outside can check out Travel + Leisure’s guide to family vacations, including the best tour companies for families, best national parks for kids and the world’s best family resorts.

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