Neither of my girls have been involved in many after school or extracurricular activities. This was partly because I was afraid after school activities would be too much.
My 16 year old participated on the bowling team the last two years. For 3 months she was required to be at the bowling alley for a couple hours after school daily. That was valuable homework time. She has anxiety anyway, so it put a lot of added pressure on her. She decided not to do bowling this year and see how it goes.
However, many parents have their kids in a lot of after school programs. This keeps their kids busy, but have they givent thought to their kid’s needs? I wonder. Coming home after an 8 hour day at school and having to move on to another hour or two of activivity can lead to burn out.
Unfortunately some parents look at after school activities as a babysitting service. It may be more convenient to place your child in some type of program instead of finding someone to watch them for you.
While keeping your kids busy definitely keeps them away from too many video games, it does not allow them time to relax. This can lead to your child becoming stressed out. This can result in their school grades declining or in them actually getting sick.
Many children feel as though they have to keep up with all their activities to make their parents proud of them. What you could do instead, is tell them that if they have taken on too much then leaving an activity is a smart move. Kat and I talked about the pros and cons of being on the bowling team this year. It was completely her choice. While it could be good for her scholarship opportunities next year, getting good grades and not being stressed out is more important.
Spending seven or eight hours studying and concentrating all day can leave your child exhausted. The last thing they need is to spend two additional hours participating in yet another rigorous class or activity. And, this might not just be sports, but even the groups offered through your mental health provider could be just too much.
While after school activities have been shown to help children, too many classes can have the opposite effect. As a parent you should limit the classes to once or twice a week. Weekend activities might be best for those children who want to do that extra activity. This way there is no pressure or time restrictions.
The amount of after school programs that you sign your kids up for will also depend on their age. Small kindergarten children are probably happy with an activity once a week. Their programs should be simple classes where they can learn to develop social skills.
For older children, activities two or three times a week are great. They will probably enjoy programs such as painting, music, dancing and gymnastics. In the summer time, they may want to go to camp, or join a baseball summer camp program.
As your child becomes a teenager they may want to get involved in the community several times a week. This can be done in various ways by volunteering at the local library, museum, pet shelter or community center. This year is the first time my younger daughter has done a regular after school activity. It’s only once per week and we are still trying to figure out how much she enjoys it.
It’s important to really watch your kids and notice if things are falling apart in some way. Are they moody, getting sick? It could be overwhelm from doing too much.