The Overscheduled Child

School, sports, music, tutorials… Does your child have too much on his plate?

These days, it’s not unusual to see a grade schooler heading off to soccer practice right after the school bell rings for dismissal, after which he needs to sit with his tutor for their daily session. The weekend means having more ball practice, not to mention playing actual games.

The Overscheduled Child

But this is not exactly the ideal schedule for young kids. With today’s very demanding academic requirements even in the grade school, we suggest that kids get enough rest after school — perhaps listen to music, watch TV even for just an hour, or just indulge in anything that the kid may like to do.

School work should still be top priority. They should be able to rest after school hours so that they can concentrate on their studies.

But They’re Important Too!

this is not to say that after-school activities are an absolute bane. Of course, extra curricular activities are also important, as these help the child unwind, rejuvenate him, and make him well-rounded. They help develop a child’s talents, and in some cases, even help encourage socialization.

We cite some examples of these activities: indoor and outdoor sports; music lessons like piano, violin, guitar, drum lessons or band jamming; performing arts like ballet, dance, voice; arts and crafts, among others. But these can become counterproductive when you engage your child in too many activities.

These are actually good if done in moderation, and will not take up too much time in a child’s everyday schedule. Take, for instance, tutorials sessions. I think having this twice a week, especially for older grade school students, is enough. They should also be given time to study on their own, because at the end of the day, the goal is for kids to be able to study independently.

One thing parents should watch out for is when these activities become more of a burden and not anymore a source of fun and recreation for the child. It may be time to re-evaluate the activity if the rest and sleep hours of the child are compromised, or if it negatively affects his performance in school. Or worse, if your child thinks these are more important than school work.

Too Much of a Good Thing

Overscheduling can affect your child in many ways. Too much physical activity makes children more tired; too much socializing can divert their focus; and too much Internet, gaming, or chatting eats up time that may be spent on other more important things.

Some signs to watch out for that indicate you may be overloading your child: When your child spreads himself too thinly, when he does not perform well in school, when he can’t keep up with his schedule, when there is no time to socialize, and when he doesn’t get enough nutrition or sleep. The most obvious sign is when your child himself says that he feels he is doing too much.

In the end, your child’s performance in school is what is bound to suffer. If he is overscheduled, he will be able to focus less on school work. This is the type of student who would hand over haphazardly done projects, half-done homework, and almost always, he would be caught sleeping during class hours. Some even appear tired and unkempt.

Teachers Recommend

We have here following recommendations for parents, both to avoid overscheduling and to deal with an already overloaded schedule:

  • Make their schedules manageable.

    One or two activities on weekends, especially during the school year, are okay, as long as these are really the child’s interests. Kids should be able to rest after school hours and be given adequate sleeping hours, so that they can concentrate on their school work. You have the entire summer to enroll your child in several activities.

  • Get to know your child’s interests.

    Take into consideration what activities he want to do in his spare time. Take advantage of free trials to give him a feel of the possible things he can do. Wait patiently until he finds out what he is really good at. Your child’s happiness and interest should always be the best guide in choosing an activity for him.

  • Allow your child to be part of decision-making.

    Letting him understand your intentions for signing him up for an activity will facilitate an open raltionship with your child. Set time to talk.

  • Process any activity with your child.

    after letting him try any activity, ask him how he finds it. For preschool-aged children, parents should ask questions; don’t wait for them to tell you things.

  • Encourage openness.

    Encourage your child to speak freely about his feelings, especially if there is a particular activity that he doesn’t want to continue doing anymore.

The rule of thumb? Don’t spread yourself too thinly. Parents should teach children the value of balance and priorities. Education should be their priority, so it should take up most of their time but without compromising their health. Other activities are second priorities that can be done twice or thrice a week, and should not interfere with family bonding and other hobbies the child may have.

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4 Comments

  1. Elvira Saenz

    September 4, 2014 at 12:50 am

    Children should have a balance activities in every aspect. They should enjoy everything that they do and having enough time in every activities they do will help them to do all they wanted to do.

  2. Helen Gatbonton

    September 6, 2014 at 9:11 am

    Nice review!

  3. Raquel Solis

    September 10, 2014 at 5:50 pm

    I wish my younger child want this kind of activity he really hates extra curricular activity in their school

  4. Dennis Lo

    September 21, 2014 at 11:43 pm

    Yeah, many parents nowadays cramp their kids’ schedules with activities that the little ones have very little time to spend at home. Our goal is to maintain a balance of “work” and play and activities without sacrificing our time with the kids. :D

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