Most people look at extracurricular activities in a good light, as they have the benefit of teaching children something new even once the school day is over. However, it is possible to overdo it on the after-school activities. If you’re wondering if your children are too busy because of their clubs and other activities, here’s what you should consider before you make any changes to their schedule.
The Many Benefits of Extracurricular Activities
There are clearly benefits for kids who join clubs, sports, and other activities outside of the school day. First, they can explore their interests, which will let them discover which activities they truly enjoy—and which ones they don’t like. All the while, they’re boosting their self-esteem as they discover where their talents lie.
Involvement in after-school activities can also teach kids responsibility and time management skills, since they have to juggle their activities and their homework during the school year. Plus, for older children, getting involved in activities can improve their chances of being accepted to college, especially when they excel at some of those activities. Finally, some studies show that extracurricular activities can improve a student’s grades and behavior at school. Knowing all this, it’s clear why so many parents prefer to keep their kids busy after school. But like anything, there may be some downsides to this decision.
The Problem With Being Too Involved
The concept of “too much of a good thing” applies to extracurricular activities because it turns out many kids these days are overscheduled. Some parents simply assume that if a couple of activities have been good for their kids, then even more will be better. While some kids do thrive on staying busy, not all can take the pressure that comes with having too many activities to do. Some might start exhibiting signs of anxiety, and some simply don’t get enough sleep because they’re too busy. And not enough sleep can lead to poor grades.
Many experts say children these days don’t have enough free time to play or just be a kid. Children shouldn’t have every minute of their day accounted for. They should have some time to relax, use their imagination, or just sleep in on a weekend morning. Otherwise, they could end up feeling overwhelmed by, and even resentful of, their outside activities.
One rule of thumb to consider is that if you’re stressed from getting your kids to their extracurricular activities, your kids probably are too. Additionally, if it always seems like going to their practices, games, or rehearsals is a chore for them—and they rarely smile or laugh during these activities—then it’s time to reevaluate what they’re involved in.
Maybe it’s clear your children are stressed-out by their extracurricular activities, but they claim to love all of them and don’t want to give them up. That’s when you have to take control of the situation and let them know they need to make some decisions. This might mean limiting your kids to one or two activities at a time. And note that, according to one study, kids who had 20 hours or more per week of extracurricular activities started to have health problems such as stress and loss of sleep.
It’s up to you to decide how many activities your children can realistically handle. For some families, it’s one per child, and for others, it’s a few. But as you figure out how to balance it all, be sure to stay organized with a calendar that has everyone’s activities recorded. You might also find out if you can carpool with other families, which would at least cut down on your stress.
And remember to set aside time for your family to be together without any activities as well as time for your kids to just be kids!
If your child’s school schedule, in addition to his or her extracurricular activities, is becoming overwhelming, your family might benefit from an online school. Visit K12.com to learn more!