‘While participating in multiple activities can enrich your child’s life, it can also make them feel stressed and pressured in an unhealthy way. It is possible for a child to be too busy.’ Dr Alice Holland
‘Busy Bees’ seems to best describe the start to Term 3 for staff and students at City Beach Primary School, where it’s full steam ahead. In our return to the activities and routines that were very much a part of our lives before the restrictions of COVID-19 dominated our world, it’s good to stop and take stock.
Like everything in life the importance of balance between work and life is always on our minds. This also applies to our children. Unintentionally, being involved in extracurricular activities where children and families have added commitments and schedules to meet after school and on weekends can add pressure and stress. These commitments often lessen the ultimate goal of extracurricular activities, which is to foster relaxation, fun and reduce stress. The chance for kids to enjoy their free time whether on their own or with friends in unstructured time and rest, is whittled away.
Free time spent with others allows kids to explore how to: handle social situations; be leaders; be cooperative followers; share; and navigate conflicts. Free time on their own allows children to be creative, explore nature and learn more about the world around them. Not having days after school or on weekends filled with commitments to organised activities, allows children and families time to unwind, enjoy being together and rest. Kids and their families who are over-scheduled may not enjoy these benefits.
So, in returning to the hustle and bustle of the term at school, we are conscious of the difference in children’s energy, ability to focus and levels of anxiety. When we are tired we don’t always make the best decisions or achieve our best results. While extracurricular activities are good for kids to develop gross motor skills, benefit from turn-taking, learn sportsmanship, pursue talents and many other invaluable life skills, less is certainly more.
Let’s help our children balance school life and extracurricular activities after school with free time, to give their minds the opportunity to grow and learn in a healthy way.