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Moms Talk Q&A: How Many Extracurricular Activities Are Good for Children?

How many do your children experience at one time? What have been the most rewarding activities?

Last week, we talked about to a student's success. Some parents believe grades aren't always indicative of a student's effort, while others won't settle for anything other than A.

This week's discussion is a good follow-up to last week's. How many extracurricular activities are good for children? How many do your children experience at one time? What have been the most rewarding activities?

Please jump in and share your stories in the comments box below. Our Moms Council members will share their thoughts too.

Susan Stone March 16, 2011 at 06:36 PM
As far as extracurricular activities go I try to keep my girls busy without wearing them out. So that being said I find two per week about our limit. My seven year old schedule consist of a sports activity; soccer or basketball. That takes up about two hours a week, one for practice and the other for the game. Then she is also in Daisy which is a division of Girls Scouts. That is scheduled for an hour a week but seems to come out to be a two hour evening. Now I am sure she could handle more then that but I want to make sure she has time to play and do homework and just relax.
Becky Slatin March 16, 2011 at 07:17 PM
Extracurricular activities are great for kids, but just like adults they need downtime too. In our house we usually have one sport every season that requires several days for practice and games. Thanks to soccer, basketball and baseball my son has been able to participate in activities with kids from his own school, as well as other kids he may not have met otherwise. During the school year we try not to have more than two activities during the week, so we do have a few nights for downtime, homework etc. In the summer we tend to add a few more activities including camps, art classes and swim team, which has been a very fun activity that keeps the whole family busy.
Denise Lee March 17, 2011 at 03:17 AM
Extracurricular activities provide opportunities for kids to try new activities and have fun. However, kids can be over scheduled (which also means the parents are over scheduled). Downtime is essential to learning and creativity. Studies have shown that a lack of downtime diminishes memory encoding. I have worked with many kids who are in two sports, two or three clubs, and extra lessons. When a child is scheduled from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. he has no time to relax with friends and family. What does this sort of schedule say to the kids? Activities are more important than time with family? Rest is for the weak (we're raising a nation of sleep-starved children - the subject for another discussion)? There is no such thing as moderation? The stress makes kids grumpy and tired. Rather than enhancing their childhood, their activities are impoverishing it. How many extra-curricular activities are enough? It depends on the child. A high-energy, out-going child might handle two and possibly three activities gracefully if they don't meet every day. A quieter child could feel stressed with one activity. If you see your child has no downtime, then it's time to cut back. My son participates in Scouts and Judo. My daughter is in Color Guard and works a couple nights a week in retail.
TP March 18, 2011 at 04:27 AM
In our house, our activities run in seasons, just like the sports my two oldest boys have played since they were fairly small. They have played baseball, soccer and basketball forever. Now that the oldest is in high school, he has dropped basketball but has added more "hanging out with the guys" and will be wanting to add a job soon so he can save for a really cool car. My younger son (11) playes the sports above, plus cross country, takes guitar lessons and is a boy scout. He is the type of kid that if he isn't in an activity he is usually in trouble, so yes, we keep him busy! Now that my daughter is in school she has been playing soccer and softball, and also takes dance class. Sure, we go a few weeks here and there where things are hectic and I feel like I live in my car, but as long as they want to participate, keep the grades up, and meet their responsibilities as home (which are significant), I'd rather they be playing sports or taking lessons than vegging out or running around with no purpose. They are probably busier than some, but if they are learning to make choices and prioritize their time.

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