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Is His Free Time Freeing?

The modern instinct with free time is to fill it. Whether in our own lives or in the lives of our children, we imagine that something productive or mindless is the antidote to an uncommitted hour. Middle school teachers Kyle Blackmer and Shane O’Neill encourage us to think differently.

This week on HeightsCast, the duo shares practical reasons and methods for protecting our family’s free time, which helps to cultivate interests, relationships, and the wellbeing of the whole person. They speak especially to our role as parents, teachers, and coaches: to clear the way of obstacles and model our own good use of free time.


  • 3:27 Good free time
  • 5:33 Role of parents in a child’s freetime: not entertaining but spreading a feast
  • 7:34 Sunday as the day of rest
  • 10:03 Leisure not as a thing “to do”
  • 12:17 The Sabbath and sports
  • 17:10 Overscheduling as an obstacle
  • 22:42 Wasting time vs. free time
  • 25:57 Cultivating interests, fostering friendships
  • 30:53 Consumerism as an obstacle
  • 35:20 Why free time is ultimately valuable
  • 42:06 Modeling healthy free time


Also on the Forum:

About the Guests

Kyle Blackmer

Seventh Grade Core, History

Kyle has been teaching humanities at The Heights since 2015, including the 7th grade Core of English and Latin, as well as 7th grade history. He developed a love for the great outdoors while growing up in Central New York, between the Finger Lakes and the Adirondack Mountains, and now advises the Ski Club in the Upper School. A Division-1 soccer player, Kyle is the goalkeeper coach for The Heights soccer program and trains keepers in grades 7-12. Kyle’s other interests include Irish history and music – both of which he pursued during his graduate studies in Northern Ireland – and working in his family’s vegetable garden. Kyle is the Director of Clubs and Activities at The Heights and is also in charge of organizing the famous Clan Games. Kyle lives in Hyattsville, Maryland, with his wife Julie and their four children.

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Shane O'Neill

Eighth Grade Core, Middle School Science

Shane O’Neill is the Varsity Rugby coach and a member of the middle school faculty at The Heights, teaching sixth grade. He is a 2006 graduate of the School and earned his B.A. in Politics from the University of Dallas. He and wife Libby reside in Damascus, Maryland.

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