Managing Extracurricular Activities
Registration season is upon us and while we fully support our kids’ dreams to be the next NHL star or to become a prima ballerina, it’s also important that we offer them an enriching, learning experience, and not an exhausting one.
Studies have shown that children benefit from participation in after-school activities in many ways. These can boost a child's self-esteem, train them to be team players, improve grades, help them make new friends and teach them to accept successes and disappointments.
Here’s how to set the pace for your children’s activities and avoid burnout. Whatever you do, make sure the schedule works for you too.
1. It’s great for kids to enjoy sports or arts. Just protect your family time. Family dinners, quality time at home, just hanging out with friends, and walking the dog are just as important. Keep a good balance between activities and home life.
2. Try to prioritize activities. An overzealous child may want to do it all: dance, soccer, swimming, music, and gymnastics. Have your child make a list of their interests and prioritize activities that best reflect their passions or talents. For the highly energetic and enthusiastic child, allow them to do one activity per season, for example, football in the fall, skating in winter, baseball in spring, and basketball in summer.
3. New at this? Begin by registering at courses offered by your local community centre. It’s a good starting point, to gage your children’s interests. Courses are never too intense, class times are short, and registration rates are cheaper. That way, you won’t be too invested financially if they lose interest in an activity. Eventually your child will connect with something they love, at which time you can strive for a higher level of commitment and register with a professional school.
4. Choosing training centres close to home saves time. Consider car pooling with other parents and sharing the task of taking the kids to their activities. Enlist the help of family members if necessary to help out.
Remember, don’t try to do it all. Kids already experience many pressures with school and assignments. It’s important for kids to be kids, and extracurricular activities should come by choice. Programs should be an enjoyable experience, designed to complement your kids' already busy lives. They should reduce stress, not cause it!