This summer, resist the urge to schedule and plan and fill up the days long before the weather warms and schools let out: unstructured summer days can actually improve your child’s focus, organization, and self-regulation. An article in The Atlantic, “Why Free Play Is the Best Summer School,” summarizes a research study done by psychologists at the University of Colorado in which they studied the effects of structured and unstructured activities on children’s executive functioning skills. The results show that the more time kids spend in spontaneous, imaginative play and self-selected reading, the more developed their executive functioning skills become. And these skills are very much a predictor of academic success–even more so, perhaps, than innate intelligence. So, slow down, get outside, and watch your children invent ways to fill their days this summer, as you take comfort in knowing that the idle days are doing great things for their brain development.