Keeping the Balance with Extracurriculars

Kelvin (admin) Deleveaux Jun 30,2016 Comments(0) Likes(0) Parenting

Keeping the Balance with Extracurriculars

It is believed that all work and no play isn't healthy for the soul. However, kids who have a jam-packed schedule filled with the pressures of school, sports events and other extracurriculars, may not agree with this adage. While they're melting down in the supermarket, their little bodies are trying to tell their well-meaning parents that it's just as harmful to have too many activities planned and not enough play. Much like adults who are overworked and flitting off from one activity to another, kids who have too many extracurricular activities lined up tend not to enjoy them. They get tired, grouchy and overwhelmed. Suffice it to say that children need a balance between academic activities, play time and rest.

Also, children’s playtime in school has deteriorated over the years. In fact, proponents of play advocate that a lack of playtime adversely impacts a child's development, both emotionally and physically. In fact, there are those who believe that one of the leading reasons for the increase in childhood anxiety, disordered attention span and depression is directly related to the decline in playtime.

How can parents find a balance between kids’ activities and school, and how many activities are too many? Here are some helpful tips to help you as you wade through the vast array of extracurriculars offered to school-aged kids:

  1. Moods Matter. There is no set number to determine how many activities constitute too many, but you can gauge their overwhelm by paying attention to your kid's moods. If you notice your children are always tired, out of sorts and cranky, or they're slipping with school work, it may be time to reevaluate their schedules.
  2. Balance Activities. Some activities require more time, mental and physical commitment than others. For example, certain sports and competitive dance or theatre can require hours of time each day. If you have a child interested in more than one time-consuming activity, spread out the activities instead of enrolling them in everything at the same time.
  3. Typecast. Gauge kids’ activities with their unique personalities. While some children enjoy a constant structured practice schedule, others may operate better with less planning and enjoy more spontaneous events. Choose events that match your kids’ style.
  4. Lead by Example. Children learn by watching, so show them the way. When you find time for your family and create downtime for yourself, your kids learn to do the same for themselves. Children who watch their parents take time for rest and fun, non-structured play or downtime, will learn to find their own balance and listen to their bodies.

Engaged parents know the importance of providing their kids with social interactions outside of school, to include exercise, fresh air, learning new skills and discovering unique talents. However, it's important to take care not to over schedule kids and run them ragged, unless of course you want to them to become adults with anxiety. Even though the sheer number of extracurricular activities offered to school-age children can be overwhelming, take the time to choose wisely and strive for a balance. It is possible to encourage kids to develop unique talents and foster their passions without turning them into robots. When you lead by example and find downtime and family time, you will teach your children how to walk the tightrope of life, finding the delicate balance between responsibility, structure and unobstructed frolic.



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