Do you kids have too much to do? Most Singaporean kids are piled with lots of activities – some from the moment they are born! From attending school to going for piano classes to learning how to swim, kids these days have a pretty packed schedule. But while school and extracurricular activities are very important for their development, doing too much can be detrimental to their health. A sign of an overscheduled child is when your kid leaves for school in the morning and returns home at dinnertime or later.
Let’s look at a typical day for kids these days.
11 hours of busyness
First, kids have school. The average school day is about seven hours long. Kids with working parents are in after-school care as well.
Then, there is homework. So let’s factor in a couple of hours for homework for the average student, at least.
In addition to the rigours and responsibilities of school, lots of kids participate in at least one activity outside of school. So let’s add on, say, another two hours of activities. This means that kids are busy for 11 hours on an average day. Why is this bad?
An overscheduled child misses out
There can be negative effects on your family and your child if they are overscheduled. Here are three negative outcomes:
Tired and bored
An overscheduled child does a lot but also misses out on so much. Pediatrician Dr. Deb Lonzer, MD says, “An overscheduled child typically don’t eat well, sleep well, or make friends properly.”
Lacks quality family time
Clearly, school and homework are important. Many kids also enjoy participating in at least one extracurricular activity. But what about family and rest time? Dr Deb adds, “Kids whose time is overly organised don’t have time to be kids, and their family doesn’t have time to be a family.”
A packed schedule for a child can be hard to manage. It also requires a lot of cooperation from the entire family and sacrifices may have to be made. If kids are tired, chances are so are their parents.
So, how can mums and dads strike a balance? Here are three guidelines to follow:
“Overscheduling structured activities is more the result of parental anxiety than for the needs of the child,” says David Elkind, PhD, professor of child development at Tufts University and author of The Hurried Child.
Set a limit
Elkind suggest no more than three activities — one sport, one social activity and one artistic endeavour like music lessons or art class. He recommends kids go go for an hour or so to each type of activity each week. “It’s really inappropriate for elementary school children to go to daily practices,” he says.
Free time is family time
Get your kids involved in the things they love but don’t do it at the expense of your family and their wellbeing. Have family dinners instead of chauffeuring them to practices and lessons every day. Finally, don’t always ask them on how to be better. Just let them be themselves.”
Also read: When to stop extracurricular activities for kids