Extra-curricular Activities – How Much is Too Much?
By Amanda Dervaitis, B.Ed.
There are an infinite number of programs available to children these days that appeal to every interest in sports, music and arts to name a few. Hockey, Taekwon-Do, Girl Guides, ski club, art class, piano, skating; the list goes on and on. It is wonderful to see your children motivated and enthusiastic about various activities, especially when you know how beneficial they are to development and growth. How do you decide when it is acceptable to add yet another activity or when it is time to draw the line and ensure your children have balanced lives?
We have all heard that kids are ‘over-programmed’ these days, but this is a generalization that does not always apply. What is too much for one exhausted child may not be enough for another who needs constant stimulation. When deciding what is right for your child you need to look at the individual situations and needs. Having a balanced schedule will allow your child to achieve success and enjoy all activities in which he or she participates.
You must evaluate what the priorities are for your child to ensure that extra-curricular activities do not interfere with the most crucial aspects of development. If academics need some catching up, hockey or basketball might have to be put on hold for this season while your child receives after school help or extra study. A part time job may have to come before guitar lessons if saving money is number one on the agenda. If your child is physically or mentally exhausted due to a busy schedule it may be time to re-evaluate how extra time is being spent. This also means that your child may not be able to take part in some activities if others, like hockey for example, are a priority and already demanding on his or her schedule.
For students who lack confidence because they are behind in school, participating in an extracurricular activity that they enjoy and excel in could actually help with their school success. Although it could be argued that time would be better spent practicing reading or spelling, the confidence and self-esteem they build while being involved in an activity that brings them pleasure can transfer to school and other aspects of life.
Finally, if your child does not enjoy the activity consider if it is really vital that he or she participate. While we don’t want to teach our children that quitting is always an option, the regular battles might not be worth it. Give your child a few options and the opportunity to choose for him or herself what activity to do in order to eliminate this type of struggle.
Thanks to contributing author Amanda Dervaitis. Amanda has been an educator for 9 years and is the director at Oxford Learning in High Park. For information about exam preparation programs call the Oxford Learning Centre at 416-762-4447.