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Leisure-Time and Its Components


Today, the Covid-19 virus has us confined in our homes.  Because of it, so many people and children are creating new ways to get through the day in their homes and then sharing it with others.  So, let’s define this word “ leisure.”   There is a general consensus that there are key thoughts in which to consider leisure:

  1. Leisure as Time is time free from obligations (sleeping, eating). Some people argue it is the constructive use of free time.
  2. Leisure as Activity is viewed as activities that children engage in during their free time—activities that are not school oriented or that do not involve life maintenance tasks such as helping or sleeping. Leisure as activity encompasses the activities that we engage in for reasons as varied as relaxation, competition, or growth and may include reading for pleasure, meditating, painting, and participating in sports.  This definition gives no heed to how a child feels while doing the activity; it simply states that certain activities qualify as leisure because they take place during time away from school.  However, as has been argued by many, it is extremely difficult to come up with a list of activities that everyone agrees represents leisure—to some an activity might be a leisure activity and to others it might not necessarily be a leisure activity.
  3. Leisure as State of Mind is much more subjective in that it considers the individual’s perception of an activity. Concepts such as freedom, motivation, competence and positive affect are critical to determining whether an experience is leisure or not leisure.
  4. Perceived freedom refers to an individual’s ability to choose the activity or experience in that the individual is free from other obligations as well as has the freedom to act without control from others. Perceived freedom also involves the absence of external constraints to participation.
  5. The second requirement of leisure as state of mind, motivation, means that the child is moved from within to participate. The person is not influenced by external factors (e.g., people or reward) and the experience results in personal feelings of satisfaction, enjoyment, and gratification.
  6. Competence is also critical to leisure defined as state of mind. Perceived competence refers to the skills children believe they have and whether their skill levels are in line with the challenges by an experience.  Perceived competence relates strongly to satisfaction and for successful participation to occur, the skill-to-challenge must be appropriate.
  7. Positive affect, the final key component of leisure as state of mind, refers to a child’s sense of choice, or the feeling a child has when they have some control over the process that is tied to the experience. Positive affect refers to enjoyment, and this enjoyment comes from a sense of choice.

What may be a leisure experience for one child may not be for another; whether an experience is leisure depends on many factors.   Enjoyment, motivation, and choice are three of the most important of these factors.  Therefore, when different individuals engage in the same activity, their state of mind can differ drastically.

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