Study: Too many extracurricular activities for your kids may actually do harm
Plenty of parents these days participate in the complex dance of carpools and rotating schedules to ensure that their kids make it to ballet on Tuesday, flute every other Wednesday, football on Thursday... the list goes on and on.
From the expensive gear involved in each activity to the arranging of lifts, these extracurriculars can feel sometimes like a bane more than a benefit.
Many parents these days may feel the pressure to enrol their kids in multiple extracurricular activities, but a new study published in the Taylor & Francis journal Sport, Education and Society shows that this may actually do families more harm than good.
The small study looked at nearly 50 families hailing from 12 primary schools in North-West England. 88 percent of kids in these families took part in organised activities for 4 or 5 days a week, and 58 percent actually participated in more than one extracurricular per evening.
Due to this frequency of extracurriculars, these activities were found to dominate family life. This held especially true for families with more than one kid.
Parents found themselves using up much of their money and energy to fit these activities into their kids' schedules, while sacrificing quality family time, too. One mum even said that sometimes her kids 'don't get in until 9 or 10pm'.
Dr Sharon Wheeler, the study's lead author, explained Science Daily why parents sometimes overdo it on activities: "We know that parents are particularly keen to ensure their children get on in life. Parents initiate and facilitate their children's participation in organised activities as it shows that they are 'good' parents."
The researchers acknowledged that parents may feel pressured to get their kids involved in numerous activities for both short-term and long-term benefits. The short-term advantages include keeping their kids healthy and socialising them, while the longer-term benefits may include improved job prospects.
"However, our research highlights that the reality can be somewhat different," Dr Wheeler revealed, "While children might experience some of these benefits, a busy organised activity schedule can put considerable strain on parents' resources and families' relationships, as well as potentially harm children's development and wellbeing."
Dr Wheeler emphasised that while extracurricular activities have their benefits, families shouldn't overextend themselves.
"Until a healthy balance is struck, extracurricular activities will continue to take precedence over family time, potentially doing more harm than good," the author noted.