We all want what’s best for our children. In today’s world, we feel as though our children will benefit from activities that enrich them — and perhaps even provide them with skills to get ahead in life. But what happens when you schedule too many activities, it might be counterproductive. Just like most things in life, it’s important to find balance.
Benefits of Enrichment Activities
Enrichment activities can provide your children with important life skills, as well as provide them with developmental opportunities. My son takes music lessons (piano and saxophone) and he was involved with Science Olympiad this year.
Enrichment activities allow children to develop additional skills that can help them become well-rounded later on. I like the idea of providing activities that focus on arts, the mind/self-improvement, and physical health. Even though my son isn’t involved in organized sports right now, he does ride is bike regularly, and when the pool opens at our apartment complex, he’ll go to the pool almost every day.
In the past, my son has also participated in 4-H and Scouting. He isn’t too fond of Scouting, but he enjoys 4-H and I will probably let him pick that up again. Once he starts school next fall he will be band, and we’ll drop the saxophone lessons. That will free him up for another activity.
I’ve seen these enrichment activities help my son. The fact that he manages music lessons and Science Olympiad practice along with schoolwork teaches him time management and priorities. As the year has progressed, he’s been amazed to discover that he can participate in activities, do his homework, and still have time to read as well as enjoy screen time.
With the right approach to activities, it’s possible to provide your children with the ability to learn new things, develop their minds and bodies, and create good habits that will help them the rest of their lives.
Watch Out for Overscheduling
Things get dicey when you begin to overschedule, however. There is a fine line between learning time management and becoming stressed out because it’s difficult to fit everything in. Another problem is that many developmental experts suggest that children should have some unstructured time. This can foster creativity and allow children to explore on their own. My son usually enjoys unstructured time during the week, and he usually has a lot more of it on the weekends. We also like to spend time together playing board games, hiking, and camping.
Sometimes I worry about crossing the line into overscheduling, since that can be stressful for kids. The danger is that you could stifle your child’s creativity, and you risk bogging them down. One of the problems with overscheduling is that it becomes more about being busy than it does about developing as a person. On top of that, it’s hard to develop meaningful family ties when you are constantly rushing everywhere.
One of the advantages I have with my family situation is that I only have one child. This means that it’s a little easier to avoid overscheduling as a family because we don’t need to try to coordinate several activities for multiple children.
Finding the Balance
As with many things in life, the key is finding balance. No child is going to be the same. Growing up, I could handle multiple activities, an after school job, and my schoolwork. My ability to manage all of this was one of the reasons I received a number of scholarship offers. However, I know that my son wouldn’t be able to handle all of the things I did, since we have different personalities. The key is paying attention and making sure your children don’t get overburdened with all of the activities.
Some activities are good for your children. Even if they only do one or two enrichment activities, it can help them grow and develop. But too much of a good thing can drag the whole family down. Figure out what is the best use of your time as a family, and decide how you can build meaningful relationships with each other, even with the activities. Don’t forget that there are enriching activities you can do as an entire family, too.
As long as you can take a balanced approach, and worry less about being “busy,” enrichment activities can be a good addition to your child’s development.