Debate: Overscheduling Children
The Debate: Overscheduling Children continues to rage on in America. To fill you in, there are two camps on structured time with children. One camp says that time outside of the school day should be high structured and accounted for to maximize their opportunities in life. The other camp states that continual structured time may have ill effects. Let’s look at the particulars, then you decide.
It is very possible that there is no such thing as overscheduling children. If you look closely at what it takes these days to become a successful adult, it is pretty rough out there. These days you have to be multi-talented, multi-skilled, and well connected to secure the type of lifestyle you want. Imagine the level of competition in 10-20 years. This is one of the arguments in favor of having children in many activities outside of school hours. This could include, but not be limited to: sports, music, art, science, community service, religious involvements, and often all of the above. The benefits to this is kids get to socialize with many groups of children and adults, learn how to work on and as a team, and begin to make connections between certain skill sets. The disadvantage to this is that children can become tired, experience a lack of focus in any one area, or experience withdrawal from all activities if a lack of success occurs because of feeling spread too thin. The gist is that the education received during the school day is not enough to build the well rounded kid you have hopes and dreams for.
Not Overscheduling Children
The opposing camp has a great argument in this debate as well. Children have just as hard of a day at school as their parents have at work. To then fit in soccer, chess, and boys scouts after school is tiring. Additionally, it takes away from a kid’s ability to do homework or other preferred activities. Also, it slows their own creativity because something new is given to them versus allowing them to use their own imagination. Lastly, parents who are strongly against overscheduling children state that it takes away from time to parent because someone else is doing it for you.
It is my opinion that there is a happy medium. Children will naturally be drawn to activities based on their talents and desires. Of the 20 things they may say they LOVE, pick two for them to be formally involved in. One to stimulate the body, and the other for the mind or the spirit. See how they do. Ask them for their feedback. And most importantly, communicate with them about how they are feeling about their schedule and commitments. It’s better to go deep than broad. Let them be great at a few things, instead of just “okay” at most things. And during the time they are not in a formal activity, that is your time with them to be mom or dad.