My kids are busier than ever! It mostly has to do with the fact they are getting older and have more of a say in what they do and don’t do. On the flip side, there are so many things demanding their attention and time. Just with school and homework alone, a kid’s day can be full. NOW, add extracurricular activities and where do they find the time to enjoy it all?
Being involved in activities is important for kids to learn about teamwork, socialize, to make friends, and to develop interests, but it can be overwhelming…sometimes resulting in negative consequences. Children should explore interests outside of school, but in a balanced way.
So, exactly how are they supposed to balance the demands of school and still enjoy extracurricular activities?
Here are just a few suggestions for how to help kids balance school and extracurricular activities:
Limit the Number of Activities
It’s more and more common to see kids doing several different activities at the same time and being busy every single day. While it’s great to let them experience all the different opportunities out there, you MAY need to limit the extracurricular activities to one or two each semester, or even throughout the entire school year.
There is no rule that says kids have to be involved in something every day of the week. In fact, being that busy can oftentimes end up running them down both physically and emotionally. It could also cause their grades to slip or wear them out… causing them to get sick. (I know when I don’t have down time I feel overwhelmed.) Limiting the number of things they are involved in will help both them and YOU. Remember; you’ll be just as busy as your kids with driving, recitals, being a spectator…things I’m sure you already know! 😉
Let your child know that they need to put some thought into each activity. They should pick one or two things that they really love, or perhaps something they’ve been very interested in trying. Then, once those activities end, they can move onto something new. Being involved in only one or two activities at a time doesn’t require so much of their time (or yours); taking some of the pressure off. This leaves time to get things done outside of the activity, such as school work and family chores, but equally as important, TIME TO RELAX.
Create a Schedule
Sit down with your child to create a schedule. Start by blocking out the non-negotiable items, such as school, homework, and household responsibilities. Once everyone sees how much time is left in a day, pencil in the extracurricular activity time commitments.
Seeing their schedule in black-and-white will clarify the reality of just how much time they have to spend on activities outside of school. It may be a real eye opener, for both of you. Decisions to join a team, a club, or other activity outside of school becomes less flippant when you see just how much time you have in a day.
Also, if the desire is strong enough to make the commitment, your child will know how much of their day will be taken up with this activity, and will be able to plan their day better. A schedule helps the everyone be aware of the cost to them in time and effort, and also helps to keep them focused and on task each day.
Be Upfront about the Cost
This can be a touchy subject but I think it should definitely play into the equation. Costs for extracurricular activities are often EXPENSIVE. Parents need to be open and honest with their kids about the costs involved. While this may not seem like a tip for how kids can balance school with outside activities, it does help clear the air so they will understand all the reasons for picking only one or two activities at a time. It also will help to explain why one or more activities may be off the list when it comes time for your kid to choose. Balancing school with outside activities is also about balancing the budget, and they need to know that, too.
Extracurricular activities are good (maybe great) things for kids. Of course, parents should support their child’s involvement. However, there also has to be a balance; not only for your child but for yourself. Teaching our kids how to manage their time so they can enjoy a comfortable balance between school and extracurricular activities is vital.