I believe that extra-curricular activities can add value to children’s lives in many ways. These activities teach things that are often not taught in school or can focus on specific areas of interest for the particular family or child. There are many activities available to us even in our small city and it is often difficult to determine which to enroll the children in. Each of my children are enrolled in two activities which occupy their time outside of school. C is taking piano lessons as well as rehearsing to perform in the school play and perhaps later she will attempt a larger play with our local college. R is enrolled in swimming lessons as well as Beavers through Scouts Canada. Is that enough? Is that too much?
I want my children to experience as many different things as they can because the more exposures they have, the better choices they can make about their futures. I want them to find their passions but I also want to ensure they learn that making commitments mean seeing them through so they are not allowed to enroll in a bunch of things and drop them as soon as it isn’t fun anymore…unless it is affecting their education.On the flip-side, I also don’t want to overwhelm the children either. Education is most important and they have certain levels in which we expect them to maintain. Those levels are set based on the child and what he/she can and has achieved in the past. An easy indicator of a child being overwhelmed is grades. If grades begin to suffer, all extra-curricular activities are re-examined and some may be put on hold until the grades in question return to the expected levels. Another indicator is interest. About a year and a half ago, C was involved in various activities and we asked her to take time off from all of them to focus on her grades as they had been slipping a little and mid-terms were coming up. When her mid-terms were over, we asked her what she missed and found that most of the activities she was enrolled in, she wasn’t all that interested in anymore.
I don’t believe there is a set number of activities that works for all children as each child is different and each activity requires a different level of commitment. For C, that number is two and her interests lay with the fine arts. In this level of commitment, she maintains an honor roll grade level and still has time for friends and to be involved in other smaller activities in her school community. For R, we haven’t determined the exact number yet as his school commitment has only now become full time. We keep him at two for the moment but it may increase or decrease as other things peak his interest or his grades and focus comes into question. It really is a trial and error type of thing from my perspective.
What works for your kids? What kinds of activities are they interested in?
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