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Don't Over-Schedule

For: Parents

Tags

Study Skills & Tools Social-Emotional Learning/Growth Mindset All Ages Strategy

Skills

Anxiety Self-regulation Organization Attention

Don't Over-Schedule

Insanity is often the logic of an accurate mind overtasked.
— Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr.

While it is important for students to have activities out of school, too many activities can add unnecessary stress, particularly for students with anxiety or executive function weaknesses.

How To Apply It!

  1. Limit scheduled activities. In elementary school, plan for no more than three extra-curriculars (one sport, one art/music, one other) that meet once per week. If an activity meets more than twice per week, consider limiting the student to two extra-curriculars.
  2. Expect middle and high schoolers to have fewer activities but participate in them more regularly. Try to limit them to 2-3 hours of extracurriculars per night. Aim for one weeknight off and one day off on the weekend.
  3. If students show signs of stress, insufficient sleep, or declining academic performance, consider re-visiting the extra-curricular schedule. Health and academics should always come first.
  4. Include students in the decision making of how many activities and which ones. Intrinsic motivation is key to a child succeeding and enjoying their activities. Ultimately, though, parents should make the final determination of which and how many activities are best to have a happy and healthy child.

Why It Works (the Science Of Learning)!

As much as children benefit from extracurriculars, they also benefit from family dinners, 10 hours of sleep a night, time to read for pleasure, and time to simply relax and decompress from the day's events. While students might enjoy the activities, the time spent on the activity, the rush to get there and back, and the pressure to do homework when they are back home can cause stress levels that many students are not emotionally prepared to manage. If a child enjoys the activity, they might be reluctant to communicate their stress for fear of giving up what they love. Parents need to carefully balance the pros and cons of participation and make a decision that is in the child's best interest.