Childhood is an adventure of exploration and new experiences. Offering your children opportunities to participate in extra-curricular activities such as sport or the arts is a good way to get them out of the house and away from the TV. Children who are involved in other activities are often happier, healthier and less likely to be bored or lured by other temptations. But how much is too much?
Should your child be practicing their chosen passion every day? Or is a schedule of ballet, piano, netball and tennis, not to mention school, too taxing on a child’ or parents energy? With so many activities to choose from, hockey, tennis, basketball, music, swimming, singing, it is no wonder kids want to try them all. Parents often are left feeling like they are just providing a taxi service.
Is there an there an ideal amount of after-school activities which children should particiapte in or does it depend on the child and his aptitude?
Child Psychologist Amanda Frawley from Kids & Co. ~ Northern Beaches in Balgowlah, advises that the needs of the individual child should be the measure and while there are no strict guidelines to follow, two per week was a good rule of thumb. Every child is different and parents must ensure that they are following both the needs and interests of the child. Some children can handle a full schedule, others can’t – so it is important to ascertain your child’s capacity.
The right balance of free play and time at home with the family is just as important for a child’s development as organised activities. It is important to have a home-life that allows connection with other siblings and enough time for communication with parents, as so much development occurs during home chatting eg knowing who their friends are, likes and dislikes etc.
Amanda suggests that parents give children time to adjust to each new activity they participate in, rather than allowing them to try something new each week. You need to pick one and stick with it for a certain period of time but you always need to be on the look-out for any changes, because your child’s interests will probably change throughout their development. Commitment to an activity can assist in developing skills around responsibility and team work, though, regular reviews of the activity schedule is paramount to ensuring the family are on the right track.