Extra Curricular Overload
Written by: Amanda Formaro
[Amanda Formaro is the entrepreneurial mother of four children.
She is the Chief Editor of FamilyCorner.com Magazine.]
School is about to open and with it comes the barrage of extra
curricular activities. Talent shows. Science projects. Homework. Dance
class. Basketball practice. Violin recitals. Book reports. When is
enough too much?
A friend of mine once told me of her 15 year old daughter who had
insisted on participating in almost every extra cirricular activity that
came down the pipe. She has become snippy with her siblings and looks
tired. I think she knows that she took a large bite this time. She seems
irritated that her free TV watching time has been replaced by
schoolwork. What's a parent to do? Is there a tactful way of dealing
with this issue without squashing your child's interests or enthusiasm?
Here are a few tips that may help your child ease into a comfort zone
fit for both of you.
What to Consider
Janet has chosen four activities that she would like to participate in
after school: basketball, dance, ceramics and drama club. In order to
determine whether or not this is doable without experiencing overload,
first you must figure out if:
How much time does it take Janet to get her homework done each night?
Is she the type of child that finishes her homework in studyhall and on
the bus ride home or does she dawdle for hours at night, just to rush
and get it done the following morning while eating her breakfast?
- she will have ample time for homework and special school projects
- it will affect her family or religious obligations
- they will interfere with her private time alone or with friends
Does she have prior commitments through her church or other family
obligations that may prevent or deter an activity she has chosen? Will
Janet have enough time to watch television and relax or chat on the
phone with her friends?
All of these questions should be addressed before deciding on which
activities to choose.
Putting it Down on Paper
Once you have assessed the amount of time needed for schoolwork and
other commitments, it's time to lay the activities out on the table.
Begin with which activities Janet finds most rewarding. Write the chosen
activities down on a piece of paper and ask her to number them by
importance, number one being most important and number four the least.
It's time to label each activity with approximate commitment times. For
example, if Janet chose dance as her most rewarding choice, you will
need to label the amount of time that this activity will require. Most
activities provide a schedule for the duration of the season. If you
don't have one, ask the instructor or coach.
Let's say that dance requires two practices per week after school at one
hour each and a recital every other Saturday for one hour. Don't forget
commute time! You've determined that for each one hour session you will
need to arrive 15 minutes early for warm ups and it takes 15 minutes to
get there and 15 minutes to get home. So you've rounded each one hour
session up to two hours of committed time.
2 hrs x 2 times per week = 4 hrs/week
plus two Saturdays per month at 2 hrs each
Do this simple exercise for each activity. Don't get too detailed, keep
it fairly simple and round up instead of down on your times. This will
allow for extra time if you need it, and we usually do!
What to Eliminate
You've determined the following from the above exercises:
Homework: Janet is an academic child and usually has the bulk of her
homework done before she gets home from school. Whatever isn't done is
usually finished before dinner is put on the table.
Family/religion: Janet has commitments at her place of worship once per
week for one hour. She also baby-sits her little brother every Friday
night for her parents.
Private time: Janet likes to spend time with her friends at least two
times per week after school just hanging out. Sometimes she likes to
roller blade or just watch television. She has decided that she would
like to slot a few hours twice per week just for herself.
Dance: This activity, as illustrated above, will need a commitment of
4-6 hours per week, including commute time.
Basketball: This was Janet's second choice. Though this activity also
takes up a lot of time, it is seasonal and does not last all year.
Drama club: This is something that Janet truly enjoys, but she has
determined that her private time and her family time are more important
to her, so she has decided not to take it this year.
Ceramics: Though this was last on Janet's list of most rewarding
activities, she chose it over drama because it only requires one hour
per week after school.
Our children look to us for guidance. If we decide to be the bad guy and
tell our children whether or not they may participate in an activity, we
create a negative atmosphere. By allowing our children to be part of
the decision making process, we have taught a lesson in responsibility
that will help carry them into a more productive adulthood. By allowing
Janet to be part of the final decision, rather than being the bad guy
yourself, you have created a win/win situation for both you and your
About the Author:
Amanda Formaro is the entrepreneurial mother of four children. She is the Chief Editor of FamilyCorner.com Magazine. Visit her kid's crafts section for plenty of other fun projects! www.familycorner.com/dir/Family/Kids/Kids_Crafts
© Amanda Formaro
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