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Activities – how do you choose?

Every family is different and so are the kids within a family. Fear of a child missing out on key experiences and important learnings can lead parents to want to overschedule. COVID also introduced a comfort in not running around (or driving) to too many activities.

Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • How much downtime do you want for your child each week?
  • How much time will be taken up with reading and homework?
  • Does your child already have any religious, cultural or language classes that will be filling downtime?
  • Is your young child going to bed early enough to be sleeping for 11 or more hours per night?
  • How will your child get to and from activities?
  • Is budget a consideration?

This is a great place to start to help you figure out what is realistic for your child. When parents begin to map out a child’s schedule, including time for sleep, play, rest, homework and any mandatory classes, it can quite clearly outline the amount of time that actually remains for activities.

Time is certainly a factor in this decision. Another is family priorities. Often parents will encourage their children to choose one physical activity and one artistic activity (soccer and piano, tennis and choir, swimming and drawing). This can offer a balance between group and individual pursuits. 

There is another thing to consider. Just because a child has time for a certain number of activities doesn’t mean that the child will attend willingly. I help many parents who are embarrassed by children who won’t participate and throw tantrums to get out of activities. Clarity ahead of time can be very helpful in knowing how you will respond to your child’s behavior.

  • Is it a parent supervised or child-only activity?
  • Can a sibling or friend participate in the same activity?
  • What behavior do you expect of your child?
  • Who can that child rely on for help if you are not involved?

Getting everyone clear on the schedule and expectations along with consequences is a great start to making extra-curricular activities worthwhile.

Author, blogger, podcast host and parenting expert, Julie Freedman Smith has been supporting parents across North America for 20 years. Through her company JFS Parent Education, she helps parents find relief from their everyday parenting challenges. Want to know how she can help you? Email her today: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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