Too many extra-curricular activities – Good or Bad?

Are we doing a Disservice to Children by providing too many Opportunities?


As soon as X comes home from school, she wants to get out to play with her friends. She has siblings who she can play with at home. Only thing she has to worry about is her homework from school. There are barely any set activities barring maybe an occasional one. She finds ways to entertain herself at home and plays random games like catch or I spy or hop scotch with friends.

opportunities
Compare this to another scenario,

Y comes home after a solid 8-9 hours at school including commuting time. Once he is back, he eats something, watches some TV and then he has his basketball coaching, dance classes, swimming lessons, drama classes, singing lessons etc. etc.

Most of the parents today will relate to the first scenario as their own childhood and perhaps the second scenario as their children’s.

SAD, isn’t it!! There is no doubting the intention. We want our children to have the best opportunities that we can afford and provide. In fact some parents might even enrol their children to activities which are probably too expensive for them.

After interacting with many parents and observing, I realise that there are two reasons behind this mad rush to fill every hour of free time in our children’s day with some planned activity.

With both parents working, we have more money to spare and less time. At the same time, we do not want children to spend time in front of TV and rightly so. Solution comes in the form of umpteen extra-curricular activities provided at every nook and corner of the city.

Another reason is the fear of competition. Parents worry that their child might not be as good as the next child and may lose out on opportunities if s/he is not exposed to every activity available. Many parents even want to handpick the friends that their child plays with.

 

Unfortunately, even the schools run on factory model which produce students who have been groomed to fit the mould. The age of starting formal education is going down every year. Now there are even programs for 1 year olds. Perhaps, it is time we learnt to relax ourselves and to let our children relax too.

 

Experts believe that a child should have ample free time to exercise his/her brain, to let the creative juices flow. A child who has been trained to always do things in a certain (perfect) way and has not been allowed to make mistakes and learn from them, will always remain a follower. 

 

Children go for vocabulary building but they have forgotten books. We as parents often forget that a reader will build vocabulary automatically. They go for swimming lessons but have forgotten the joy, splashing in water can bring. There is a race to raise the best child, the ALL ROUNDER.

It is time we realised that running in the park or hanging on a jungle gym is better than structured exercises in so called gyms for children. Find what your child is really interested in and support whole heartedly, but accept that your child does not have to attend every single class in the vicinity or be best at everything in sight.

Would love to hear your thoughts on this!!

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