Back to school means a return to extracurricular activities for many children. Some children are out of the house nearly every night of the week. I have worked with children and families as a resource coordinator and mentor for many years. When parents come to me with academic or behavioral concerns regarding their children, I quickly ask what they are involved in after school. If the list is long, my advice is usually to scale back and see if things turn around.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, there is a strong association between kids’ participation in extracurricular activities and academic success. But finding an activity, club or sport that fits the child can sometimes be a tricky matter. Just about every mom can attest to the frustration of trying to convince a child to practice an instrument or do their best work for a club project. So there’s nothing like having a child approach an activity with enthusiasm and self-motivation.
The other day, I was at the ice skating rink dropping off my daughter for her figure skating lesson and I saw a young girl – about eight years old – come off the ice in tears. the ice in tears. “I can’t do it!” she cried to her mother, who was watching closely from the sidelines, holding an infant. “I’ve tried and tried, and I keep falling!”
It makes my head spin to think about the kind of schedule some kids these days keep. School, after-school care, homework, dinner, sports or dance once a week, swim lessons or another activity twice a week, games, birthday parties and campouts on weekends. The range of extracurricular activities available to children today is mind-blowing, but of course we want our kids to have everything. But Jill Connors, mom of five, says, “I know friends whose kids are in school that are so scheduled that anytime they are home they are ‘bored.’”
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