How are scheduled activities affecting your child’s life?
By Julia Siedlanowska, Staff Writer
Everyone knows that a kid’s job is to play, but it’s easy to forget. While activities keep kids out of trouble, there is such a thing as overkill. Activities provide a place for children to go in circumstances where parents may not be available for after-school care, but parents and guardians should be careful when soccer practice just isn’t fun anymore.
It hit me after I had scheduled my cast of 10-13-year-old kids for a six-hour rehearsal. “What was I thinking?” I exclaimed as I hit myself over the head. In the busyness of my own current schedule, I forgot who I was dealing with.
When I was arranging rehearsals I was shocked to hear one talented young girl’s schedule: “I have ballet on Mondays and Tuesdays, singing lessons on Wednesdays, gymnastics on Thursdays, St. John’s ambulance training on Friday afternoons, and Sunday school.” This was all on top of her regular sixth grade classes. When rehearsals were finally scheduled and underway, the girl was often being rushed from one activity to the next, with time enough to eat while commuting. Although she was happy enough in the beginning, her attitude slowly began to change.
Kids need time to be kids.
Extracurricular activities are meant to raise confidence, challenge, encourage, and expand kids’ minds. But is it any wonder that sometimes the children we’re working with (or God forbid, raising) have an attitude? The child’s benefits should be at the forefront of parents’ decisions regarding scheduling. Of course we want our children to try many different things, but if a child is acting out, their grades are dropping, or they’re getting sick or fatigued, it may be time to reconsider the benefits.
I wish today that my parents had given me singing and piano lessons. But looking at kids now, I’m wondering if we are passing on our habits as a time-poor society. Is eating on the go a habit that really needs to be embedded this early on? How great is the half-hour sacrificed to a sit-down meal?
I’m sure your child will learn as soon as they try balancing university life with a part-time job. For now, are we robbing kids of the only time where doing sweet nothing is acceptable? Parents are shoving iPads in kids’ hands in the car, while sending them from school to dance to homework with a trip to Subway in between. What will they have to reminisce or compare to when they are adults? Perhaps in between all those stimulating activities is also time for thought and compassion. Just a half-hour or so for kids, and for ourselves.