From The Superintendent’s Seat
And The Balancing Act Begins
School certainly starts with a bang, doesn’t it? Depending on the age of your children, you are usually bombarded with notices, permission slips, check requests, and meeting schedules within the first two weeks. You probably wish you could ease back into things, perhaps one or two at a time, but that’s not how it works. If you have children who like to be engaged in a variety of activities, you have little choice but to jump right back into the school year. However, we do suggest you look before you leap.
Now that the school supplies have been purchased and the books covered, it’s time to organize the extra-curricular aspect of school. For some students, especially those in middle and high school, clubs, teams, performing groups, science research, and the like, are the most enjoyable and important activities they take part in.
But what do you do when your children want to do it all? If you haven’t talked about it already, sit down with them now and go over each activity they want to do. Have as much information on hand that you can about the days and times of practices, rehearsals, games, concerts, meetings, trips, and other time commitments beyond the school day that each activity will require. Then add on an amount of time daily or weekly that you feel is appropriate for that other after-school activity—homework—and try to make time for the most elusive activity of all, which is to have “free time” when nothing at all is planned.
How do their schedules look now? It is quite common for kids to be so determined to engage in all their favorite activities at once that they are willing to start compromising. They may feel it’s okay to be a member of four different clubs that all meet at the same time. They’ll just plan on going to each meeting once a month instead of once a week. They have the best of intentions—all the clubs are so interesting—but it rarely works out. As the saying goes, quality really does count more than quantity. We feel you should guide your children to take part in a reasonable number of activities in which they can be full participants, rather than to join so many different things that they cannot have a meaningful experience in any of them. When it comes to either joining a sports team or accepting a lead role in a theatrical production, the time commitment may be so great that your children may have no choice but to curtail others. Perhaps they will consider taking off a sports season or a show in order to participate in something else for part of the year.
As a parent, you need to help set school and activity priorities for your children that they will be able to follow. Persevere in requiring that your children have enough time to do their schoolwork to the best of their ability, and be as generous as you can in enabling them to take part in their favorite activities. Remember also to consider what time commitments (especially transportation) you will have to make to their activities, and don’t make promises you will not be able to keep. Good luck.#