Extra-Curricular Activities: How Much Is Too Much?
When it comes to extra-curricular activities, the number of programs/clubs available to children is incredibly large. It seems no matter what your child’s interest: sports, music, art, theatre (to name a few), there is a group available. While it is amazing to see your child interested in a variety of activities that aid in their development in a number of ways, it is important to be able to draw the line when signing your child up for things, in order to be sure their school work doesn’t suffer, and to be sure they lead balanced lives.
It is true that the amount of activities one child can handle will differ from that of another. While some may feel satisfied with just one activity, other children may need two or three to feel stimulated enough. It is important to look at your child’s individual needs and abilities, as well as maintaining a balanced family schedule in order to make sure extra-curricular activities fit into family life without taking it over.
While your child may be much more excited for piano lessons or hockey practice than they are to sit down and do their homework, it is important to ensure school work does not take a backseat. If your child’s marks begin to slip due to lack of time or effort, it is important to take a break from extra activities in order for them to catch up. Depending on your child’s (and family’s) needs, multiple extra-curricular activities may not be feasible. If priority is placed on earning money for post-secondary education, a part-time job may need to take priority over guitar or snowboarding lessons. Upping that math mark may need to come before basketball practice or computer club. While extra-curricular activities help children to develop athletic, creative, and social skills (amongst others), a mentally and physically exhausted child will not excel at any of these activities, much less their school work.
But it’s not all negative: for some students, participating in after-school activities could help build confidence and self-esteem that helps them in the classroom. A once shy student who never raised his/her hand and performed poorly in group-learning activities or projects, may develop the social skills and confidence necessary to offer ideas and ask questions without hesitation.
The last thing to think about is whether or not your child really wants to participate in an activity, or if you really want them to participate in the activity. Having a large desire to be a hockey mom does not ensure that your child will actually enjoy or excel at playing hockey. It is important to recognize if your child loses interest in an activity, and not force them to continue. While communicating that quitting is not the way to achieve goals, it is important to express that your child has the option of not continuing with optional activities they do not enjoy. Ask your child what he/she would most enjoy spending their time doing, and see if there is a club/team available for them to join that fits with the family’s schedule.