Is your child’s after school schedule fully booked? Find out why less is more, and how to choose the right balance of activities for your child.
It’s very tempting to pack your child’s after school schedule with fun and educational activities. Especially as there’s so much today to choose between – from football, swimming, ballet and martial arts, to crafts, languages, music and drama.
But as healthy as it is for children to have a wide range of interests, spending time with their family, relaxing and playing are all just as important as learning and developing.
So how do you find the right balance of activities and free time? And which of their current activities should you drop? To help you choose the right balance of activities for your child, Jane Maudsley, founder of national performing arts franchise business Little Voices shares her advice.
Your child’s time and energy are limited
It’s good to teach your child the value of sticking at something, and not quitting when the going gets tough or they lose interest. But sometimes, it’s the right decision to give up an activity that they no longer need, or want, to do.
As much as you may want to give your child every possible opportunity in life, the reality is that their time and energy are limited. Their abilities, needs and commitments also change considerably as they get older, and after school activities that were once ideal, can sometimes cease to be as relevant.
Swimming is a prime example. Ideally, every child should learn how to swim as it is a fundamental life skill. But as your child progresses it can lead to training early mornings, evenings and weekends. At that point you may consider whether your child loves swimming enough to pursue it competitively. Or whether it’s realistic to carry on as their homework increases.
How do you work out which activities to drop?
So how do you work out which activities to put the brakes on, and which ones to continue? Here are a few considerations that can help:
- Does your child enjoy the activity? Fun is key to any activity that any of us do at any age.
- Are they managing to stay on top of their homework?
- Do you notice they’re getting tired? Are they maybe doing too many activities?
- How convenient are they? Are they easy to get to, and finish at a reasonable hour?
- Are activities enhancing their skills or conquering fears? Will they help them in future?
- Are they learning any specific new talents or developing soft skills such as team work?
- Does any activity enhance a number of areas of your child’s life?
- How many activities a week can they realistically do? One or two, or more?
Four questions to ask yourself when choosing activities
When parents ask me for advice on choosing activities to sign up for (or drop), I recommend they ask themselves four questions: .
- Does your child enjoy it? I recommend eliminating any activities that your child doesn’t enjoy, however much you may want them to do them!
- Is it enriching your child’s life? Look for activities that have exponential benefits for your child, such as drama, which can have enormously positive mental and physical benefits for other academic subjects, and general self-confidence.
- Do you have the time for it? Does the activity works with both your schedules? As your child grows, the workload and commitment from school increases, so you need to monitor what they can cope with. Look for activities that take up the least amount of time but hold the most benefits!
- Can you make it every week? Can your child can realistically make the activity every week? Often weekend activities are the hardest to attend as you may have family commitments and parties from time to time. Missing too many sessions can impact your child’s progress and confidence (and leave you feeling resentful at paying for something you don’t use).
When it comes to activities, less is more
By being selective in the activities you sign your child up for, you can ensure they give their all to them, and get the most out of them. They’ll also have plenty of free time and energy for their schoolwork, socialising with friends, and relaxing at home with you – all just as important as any after school club or activity!
So if you’re tired of charging back and forwards between after school clubs, or are worried you’ve taken on too much for your child, don’t be afraid to re-evaluate their schedule and help them get more from less activities by dropping some.Jane Maudsley