Extracurricular Overload
Chrisley Ann Hinayas (The Freeman) - January 10, 2015 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines - Nowadays, many kids are made to be involved in so many extra-curricular activities that they barely spend time with the family. While these activities give them fun, some kids are already burned-out due to the hectic schedule.

Extra-curricular activities are not bad for school-age children. In fact, it develops their social and communication skills; for example: how to get along with peers and learn sportsmanship, teamwork, and proper negotiation, among others.

Recreational activities cultivate their competence and mastery, especially when they are passionate about them. They give the child the opportunity to mingle and develop friendships with other kids apart from those in the neighborhood, school, and church, thus expanding his social circle.

A child who plays sports or engages in art lessons is more self-confident and does better in school, especially when he wins or gets rewarded for his efforts.

Knowing this, parents sometimes get carried away and sign the children up with each and every activity without realizing that they are pushing the kids to get involved with so many at such an early age. That is why we have kids who, before they even know how to add numbers, already know how to play the piano or do gymnastic moves.

While we want the best for our kids and give them the best as they grow up, we should not fall into that trap of overloading our children with extra-curricular activities. Though doing so provides numerous benefits and help develop their passions and talents, the children might already be so stressed out without the parents knowing it.

The Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. Dolores Aboitiz Children's Fund believes that parents should focus on the overall wellbeing of their children by supporting development areas geared towards their welfare.

The question now is how much is too much? Are there activities that children should not participate in? To prevent activity overload for kids, here are a few tips:

Choose activities wisely.  The purpose of getting the children to engage in activities is to develop their innate passions. If your kid likes to sing, then have him take voice lessons. However, avoid signing a child up for a sport or art activity he is not interested in at all.

Focus on activities that interest your child and those that fit his age and abilities. It would be better if you could sit down with your child and discuss with him which activities he would like to try. His extra-curricular activities should be of his choosing. In the case of preschoolers who do not have the capacity to decide on their own, the choice is up to the parents.

It is important for the child to enjoy the activity rather than feel obligated and pressured to participate in it. Some families limit their children to one or two activities.  Of course, you don't want these activities to take the place of family days.

Set priorities.

A kid overloaded with extra-curricular activities is often robbed of time with family and friends. Setting priorities would help parents define the goals in the engagement. Children can choose which activities are more important to them.

Family time should be the top priority. If family time is compromised, extra activities should not be pursued. The activities should not also sap the child's energy and take time away from doing school works.

Despite the extra-curricular activities, try to maintain a healthy family bond even if it means going home early for dinner. Make sure you schedule time for the whole family to enjoy together. Home activities may be as simple as hanging out in the kitchen, cooking, or sandwich making.

Don't over-commit.

Your child cannot participate in all activities that you plan to sign him up in. One parenting mistake is the tendency to worry too much if the child misses out an activity. Bombarding the child with too many activities will only overwhelm him.

Is he enjoying the activity? Is he learning in the engagement? How about school? Is he doing good in class? These are some questions that you need to answer before you commit your child to join activities. If it begins to take a toll on your child's life, leaving him with no time for unstructured play, family time, and sleep, it could be a red flag that your child is overloaded with extra-curricular activities, which in the first place he should be engaging in for the fun of it.

Two activities at a time are doable. When the child is into too many activities, things tend to become hectic for him already. The fun of doing the activities tends to be lost.

Count the Cost.

Parents must also be aware of the financial pressures extra activities bring. Most activities require a price tag when you sign up. The best thing to do is to set first a financial plan. Based on the plan, draw out possible ways to support the activities your child wants to do.

All of us want the best for our children. But when we overload them with too many activities, it may do them more harm than good. (FREEMAN)


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