One resource I learned about while taking classes in para education at Bellingham Technical College is a program called Love and Logic. In Love and Logic Journal, Vol. 22, No.4, Dr. Charles Fay wrote an article entitled Extracurricular Activities for Kids; How Much of a Good Thing is Still Good?
Dr. Fay lists some of the benefits usually attributed to extracurricular activities, such as young people being less likely to get involved with drugs, drinking and gangs. He cautions that extracurricular activities become harmful, however, when they undermine the child’s involvement with his or her family.
In general, Dr. Fay gives the following guidelines:
- If there is no longer time for family dinners, time spent on extracurricular activities is inordinate.
- If children have no time or energy left to do chores and contribute to the family, they are too busy.
- Children need some down time to think, relax, and learn how to handle boredom. If every moment is organized into one activity or another, the child may learn to expect constant entertainment.
- If parents are burdened with all the demands of the child’s extracurricular activities, this is harmful. Dr. Fay states, “Healthy parents don’t allow themselves to feel guilty when they take good care of themselves by setting limits on activities that run them ragged. They know that having rested and relaxed parents is more important to kids than doing everything they want. Involvement in extracurricular activities is a poor substitute for quality family time.”
- If the child is highly stressed by all his or her extra activities, parents need to clue-in to help the child set priorities.
I highly recommend the Love and Logic publications. They are well thought-out and teach concepts which have been successfully tested in homes and schools.