Checking my students’ agendas before they left for the day I came across a note in one that said, “Do homework first, watch t.v. after.” I asked the student if her dad had written the message as a reminder and she said no, that she had for herself. I questioned why and she replied that she needed the friendly reminder to help her out, as every night of the week, except one, she has an extracurricular activity that she participates in. Monday and Wednesday she goes to karate, Tuesdays and Fridays skating.
All of this had me thinking about one thing: What is the purpose of extracurricular activities? To socialize kids with others? To develop leadership skills? To give your son/daughter opportunities you didn’t have? To increase self esteem? To teach children about time management and prioritizing? I think the list could go on and on.
How much is too much? If a child has only one day a week to relax at home and enjoy life is that enough? Does it create a stressful life? I read an article online from Psychology Today, titled “Are We Pushing Kids Too Hard?” and here’s a valuable snippet from it:
Even in ordinary situations, stress is not always bad. Hans Selye, M.D., one of the pioneers in stress research, believed that moderate amounts of stress are actually good for us. He described two kinds of stress: eustress and distress. Eustress is the pleasant stress we feel when we confront the normal challenges of life. A child who enjoys soccer, for example, may thrive on the pressure associated with practice and games. Distress, on the other hand, occurs when we feel overwhelmed. The same child who thrives on soccer may become overwhelmed if he is also involved in four or five other activities.
Recently, it seems as though having a constantly busy and on the go life is the norm. If people aren’t busy, they feel something is wrong. I often find myself feeling this way on the weekends. When I have down time, I almost feel guilty that I’m not doing something. This seems to be the way society is heading, but is it healthy? Should we be raising our children this way? Don’t kids need time to be kids? Although I believe good intentions are always there, I think it’s important that there is a balance in children’s lives. Life is hectic and they need down time just like we do. They need that time to play, to build relationships with their family members, and to develop self awareness. They need time for themselves. They need time to be a child.