Balancing extracurricular activities with academics for schoolkids

As a parent, you have high expectations for your children. You want them to be the very best at everything. Parenting is not a competition; deep down you acknowledge this fact true. Yet at the same time, your children are a reflection of your efforts. It is natural for parents to desire for their children to participate in a wide variety of extra-curricular activities. 

Awaiting for their blessed arrival you had visions of soccer games and tennis matches, foreign language clubs, and honor role status. You saw them graduating at the top of their class, with letters in every sport, and top performance in glee, chess, and French. With you by their side, how could they fail? Placing the world at their fingertips, you do not want them to miss a single opportunity. 

Still, today’s education system puts a high standard on education. Sometimes, with higher expectations than when we were young. Little ones bring home hours of homework. Between karate lessons and baseball practice, football and hockey games the work load can be overwhelming.

It is great for children to enjoy and pursue a variety of activities, to become well-rounded adults. They need social and mental stimulation, physical activity and creative tasks. Experiences make us who we are. They test and challenge us, encouraging inner and outer transformations. 

Sports teach children about intercommunication and social interaction. They learn integrity and grit, dexterity, humility and strength. You show up early and cheer them on, thriving in the excitement. Foreign languages and competitive academic clubs shine on college applications. Proud of your children’s achievements you stand up straight and boast with the best.

However, you may sense something is amiss on those especially hectic days. You know the ones when you are rushing your child to choke down a sandwich on the way to piano lessons? The nights when the only free time for homework is in the car on the way to a dance recital, or after a late night on the ball field. Getting home much past their bedtime, you may find yourself questioning these choices. 

As a standard rule of thumb, if you feel stressed out, your child likely does as well. If they seem sleep-deprived and overwhelmed then it is time to take a step back and evaluate the options. Balance is key to good health and well-being. 

Putting extracurricular before schoolwork sends the wrong message in shaping the work ethic of future adults. If your child has trouble staying awake in class then we have a problem with an easy solution. Do not encourage your child to be a quitter, but do demonstrate the need for down time and quality academics. Navigating the right balance can become a bit of a tightrope. There is no tried and true formula. However, placing the focus on your child’s thoughts and feelings is a great place to start. 

After, all being a kid should be about being fun and silly, not serious and stressed. With a lighter load, your child will have more energy and attention to focus on performing well. Take some time to sit down with your child and get their feedback. Stick with the activities they enjoy most and take advantage of a little extra quality down-time. Together negotiate balance that works for both today and tomorrow.