Compiled by Michelle Young, M.S. Ed
Parent Resource Center
5905 Forest Place, Suite 205
Little Rock, AR 72207
Now that school is back in full swing, many parents and children are beginning to feel a little bit overwhelmed with all the activities that happen beyond the school day. Why do we as parents want our children involved in extracurricular activities? For the majority of parents, we want our children to be exposed to opportunities we may or may not have experienced. Also, playing, exploring or simply roaming the neighborhood on a bicycle is not always safe. In our changing world, activities and play have become much more formalized. Going to college is more common today, too, which means added pressure to do well in school as well as in activities outside of school. All of this adds up to more involvement in an abundance of extracurricular activities. Today's challenge is helping your kids maintain a healthy balance between school and the myriad of extracurricular activities they have on their plates.
"There's definitely less informal play these days," says George W. Shannon, MD, FAAFP, a family physician in Georgia who is on the board of directors of the American Academy of Family Physicians. "Good parents have concerns about kids in unsupervised environments. We've all heard horror stories about kids being snatched. I used to wake up and get on my bike at 6 in the morning and come back at dark. Today there are more structured activities. I'm glad because, in the absence of free-form play, there would be nothing for them to do."
There is also some parental pressure for kids to succeed. "You must make sure you don't put undue pressure on kids when it comes to extracurricular activities," Dr. Shannon says. "The kids will be stressed. When our plates are too full, we might be short-tempered; we feel rushed. I've seen some kids who are tremendous over-achievers. Some kids can handle it and others can't."
Finding the Right Balance: School and Extracurricular Activities
Here are some tips from the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia to help your children maintain a good balance between academics and activities:
A Well-Rounded Education
The U.S. Department of Education points out that just about every school offers some extracurricular activities, from music to sports to academic clubs. Involvement can reinforce academics and help kids learn social skills. Also, research has shown that involvement in extracurricular activities can improve a child's sense of belonging to the school and reduce his chance of failing or dropping out.
But remember that kids are exploring what works and what doesn't, so give them some room to change. "If your child is trying to pull away from an activity, recognize that he may have too much on his plate," Shannon says. "He doesn't have to start playing football at age 7. … Don't push kids into activities that they don't want to do."
Source: Article by Lynn Yoffee ~ Everydayhealth.com
Websites to Explore
About Our Kids
American Academy of Family Physicians
American Academy of Pediatrics
Books for Further Reading
Raising a Team Player: Teaching Kids Lasting Values on the Field, on the Court and on the Bench by Harry Sheehy & Danny Peary
The Hurried Child: Growing Up Too Fast Too Soon by David Elkind
The Over-Scheduled Child: Avoiding the Hyper-Parenting Trap by Alvin Rosenfeld & Nicole Wise
*The books listed above plus MANY more are available at the Parent Resource Center.
Please visit the Parent Resource Center located at 5905 Forest Place in Little Rock. You will find books, videos, DVDs and other printed material as well as internet access all FREE of CHARGE. Hours are 9 to 5 Monday through Friday. For more information, call: (501) 666-6833.