As children grow up the pressure to be involved in multiple extracurricular activities does too. Family calendars hanging on refrigerators across America are jam packed with sports practices, art classes, dance lessons, tutoring sessions and more scheduled out hour by hour. Parents are busing children from one place to the next because they know that children that participate in after school activities are more likely to attend and be successful in college.
So how do children balance these extracurricular activities with their school load? Teaching them to say enough is enough but keeping them motivated at the same time can be a tough job. Use these simple steps to ensure that they stay happy, healthy and learn about the importance of balance along the way.
1. Make a list of extracurricular activities by season with each child.
Children’s passions change from week to week and as they begin to make new friends with different interests. Making a list of extracurricular activities by season with each of your children will allow them to express all of their interests and give you a picture of their potential activity load by season. This list should include every single activity that they would like to try; you will narrow it down later.
2. Assess and note the time commitment of each activity.
Not all extracurricular activities are created equal! Some activities require more of your child’s time than others. Some sports require that your child participate two to three times per week, some require just one day of participation for an extended period of time, and others occur bi-weekly. By carefully considering the time commitment of each program on the list of Extracurricular Activities, you will be able to help your child pick the activities that allow them to balance their time.
3. Narrow down the list of extracurricular activities to a schedule that your child can handle year-round.
Only you know the limits of your child and your family. By sitting down with your child and explaining the time expectations of each activity, you will be helping your child to make these decisions on their own in the future. Talk through the list of extracurricular activities season by season and help them narrow down their choices to the right load for their age, personality, your family’s budget and schedule. Only solidify the activities for one season at a time to allow room for your child to change their mind as they continue to grow throughout the year.
4. Schedule the list of extracurricular activities in the family calendar one season at a time.
Walking through the scheduling process with your child helps them comprehend the concept of time and teaches them the importance of staying organized. Mark the entire season on the calendar, tackling one complete program on the list of extracurricular activities at a time. Talk to your child about what time they will be expected to do homework on the days that they have an activity.
All of these tips will help your children understand the importance of balancing school and extracurricular activities. These four steps are designed to engage in a conversation that allows your children to express their interests and make a decision regarding what they do outside of school. Asking them for their input gets them interested in learning about scheduling and time. Remember that you are the parent and you ultimately get to make the call if you do not think the activity is best for your child or does not fit into your budget or family schedule.