All parents want the best for their children, but sometimes we unintentionally harm them instead of benefiting them. Sometimes we believe that in order to enhance their abilities we should sign them up for an infinite number of extracurricular activities, but this may not be good for our children. In this article, we show you the 3 most common mistakes we parents make when we sign our children up for activities after school.
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Does keeping them busy for so long help their development? The choice of extracurricular activities is much more important for our children than we think. It is easy to make three mistakes that can be detrimental to their education.
Summer vacation is over and with it the start of a new school year. For teachers, August 31 is like our New Year’s Eve because our work and often our lives are governed by the academic year and not the calendar year.
With September comes “back to school” for everyone: children, teachers, and families. But according to the calendar, September is preceded by the month of August. August has always been considered a vacation month in which we should take the opportunity to rest, recharge our batteries and organize the school year for our children.
While waiting to find out who will be the teacher for the next school year and if the classmates will be the same, the organization of the new school year involves the purchase of too many textbooks, countless school supplies, new clothes or uniforms, and the star topic, the choice of extracurricular activities.
So, if we have to agree on a series of extracurricular activities, we ask ourselves the following question: What is the best for our children? Unfortunately, I cannot give an answer to this question, but what is clear to me is that everything is important and in the right measure. Each and every aspect such as education, training, play, and social relationships are worked on both in and out of school. Thus, teachers, fathers, and mothers are responsible for it.
I will not argue that it is important to offer them the opportunity and help to be educated and trained, but we must be aware and consistent with their age and their level of occupation. In fact, the principle of lifelong learning and the competence of learning to learn should be given even more important than it has within our educational system.
“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”
Mistake #1: Choose the activities for them
As good parents, we are obliged to select a series of extracurricular activities to make them useful people. This would be our first mistake if we are the ones who choose for them and do not take into account what they want and what they like. Some children will do activities at their school in the afternoon or evening. And most likely they will spend an hour or so in the afternoon learning to play an instrument, doing robotics workshops, or on the soccer field or basketball court.
Mistake #2: Keeping them busy all the time
For whatever reason, we consider most appropriate, but not the best, we think that the best thing for our children is to keep them busy all day long. This would be our second mistake. However, we are the first ones to organize our own time to attend to our obligations, not to saturate ourselves, to do everything we like and to be able to rest, so why don’t we also do it with our children?
All adults would like to do those things that fulfill and satisfy us personally, whether it is dedicating hours to the cult of the body or the cult of the mind, for example running, coaching a team, coaching oneself or others, learning a language or playing an instrument. But the day lasts as long as it lasts, you have to know how to manage your time and you have to give up some things to be able to do others, that’s why we choose by priorities.
Mistake #3: Choosing too many activities
For the sake of our children, we must approach the subject of extracurricular activities very seriously, assessing what is best for them taking into account their age, their motivation, and their barriers and strengths in different areas. Let’s not make the mistake of saturating their heads with too many responsibilities and robbing them of their precious time to spend with their family and friends. This would be the third mistake and the most detrimental to the ones we love the most.
Keeping them busy for so long does not favor their development. If we saturate our children with so many extracurricular activities we run the risk of them losing motivation, an essential element for any learning process. This motivation is easily lost in front of a book or an activity. For example, a 7-year-old girl is capable of concentrating for 12 to 35 minutes. It is not compulsory to learn mathematics in front of a book. We can go grocery shopping or bake some muffins while doing really meaningful learning.
What should I keep in mind?
In the educational systems of occidental countries, children of primary school age spend 6 hours a day at school, to which if we add staying at the school canteen, homework or revision of the lesson at home, plus at least 1 hour of extracurricular activities, we are looking at a working day of an adult. It could be said that during these 6-8 hours they have had enough time for their education, training, play, and social relations.
Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights proclaims the right to education as a fundamental human right. The article states that primary schooling for boys and girls should be compulsory and free of charge. Play is a right according to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989). And social relationships are very important for personal, cultural, and moral growth, but where is the time to do what they want, to do things with their family, or just to be bored? Do not be surprised by the word “boredom” because it is a state in which people’s creativity is favored.
Consequently, we must find the balance for their well-being by looking for that middle ground between academic, personal, and social. Only in this way will we ensure that our children manage to develop as complete and active people. Let’s not make the mistake of demanding more than they can handle, and much less want them to be what we want them to be. We must guide them so that they can decide for themselves.