Extra-curricular Activities – How Much Is Too Much?
There now seems to be an after school or weekend club for anything you can think of, from foreign languages for kids as young as 3 years old, to learning how to fathom out the latest dance routines or synchronised swimming moves seen on TV talent shows. Gone are the days when kids would be happy just attending Cubs or Brownies one night a week, and maybe an hour of football or dancing on a Saturday. Parents and nannies are now literally shuttling from group to club almost every evening. With a world full of new concepts, and more and more parents quietly competing for their child to be the best at everything, it brings about the question – just how much extra learning and activity is good for a child, and how can we make sure they don’t get overwhelmed?
Of course, if your child seems to be happy with their activities, and is keeping up with their homework, then there may not be any need to think that they are being over-extended. The learning curves which come from such activities can be really valuable, and kids attending these groups are far less likely to spend hours on computer games or in front of the TV. Extra curricular activities can promote:
- team work
- self esteem and confidence
- a sense of belonging
- fair play with others
- a boost in academic achievement
Of course, striking the right balance is key, and making sure that your kids are enjoying themselves, also having enough ‘down time’ where they can just chill out at home, and are eating and sleeping properly, and that the groups they attend are through their choice and not yours, are all really important.
Tips to make sure your child doesn’t get overwhelmed by extra curricular activity:
- Clear boundaries – when the new term comes, set boundaries on the amount of activities that your child is allowed to participate in, and stick to them!
- Family matters – realise the importance of family time, and never let this take a backseat to extra curricular activities. You want your child to have great, memorable family experiences, even if it means missing their club once in a while.
- School comes first – ensure that your child understands that school takes priority over activities – even most of the best athletes and musicians had to take their GCSEs! Unless your child is training to be a professional, and as such is being educated outside of school, never let them miss school to do their activities.
- Homework – make sure you factor in set times for your child to do homework, or encourage them to plan and manage their own time to do this.
- Communicate – is your child really happy with all of the groups he or she attends? You never know, he could be attending one or more of them because he thinks you want him to. It’s key that these groups are enjoyed – otherwise what is the point?
- It’s for them, not you! Did you want to be a professional ballerina or actor as a child, and never felt you had the chance?! Don’t let this be a reason for you to push your child into a certain activity. Remember that not all kids are cut out for all activities, so make sure your child is doing something because they actually want to, and if they tell you they don’t like it, listen to them!
So if you stick to the above, you never know – you might have the next David Beckham or Jessica Ennis on your hands, without the petrol bills of carting him or her to every single group under the sun in the mean time!
Do you agree that our kids may be in danger of activity overload? Or is the opposite true?! Tell us your thoughts by leaving a comment on the blog or on our Facebook page….