While the benefits of extracurricular activities are numerous, it’s important for parents to actively help their children find a healthy balance between extracurricular pursuits, family life and school by enforcing a school first attitude to ensure their overall happiness and success.
Too Many Extracurricular Activities For Kids
It can be tough as a parent to find a solution that will help your child get motivated and focused and, as a result, earn better grades at school. There are a lot of reasons why some kids struggle in school. As education professionals we look at a lot of factors that contribute to poor grades but we can often narrow it down to one, overlooked culprit: Your kids are way too busy.
Whether it‘s sports, music or a host of other extracurricular activities, we are keeping our kids so busy that they are left stressed and exhausted, leaving little room for family, free time or schoolwork. Does this mean that a child shouldn’t participate in sports or other interesting activities? Of course that isn’t the kind of solution that is either practical or fair. After all, keeping our kids’ bodies and minds active is not only healthy, but gives them purpose and focus.
So how do we find the balance between good grades and extracurricular activities, particularly for those parents with children who are very committed to a certain sport or pursuit? While there are many possible approaches, there are guiding principles that can help parents ensure that their child can be a great student with good grades while, at the same time, actively and successfully pursue other interests: the school first attitude.
The School First Attitude
A school first attitude should be a guiding principle for parents and their children. It places high value on education and strives to create an environment where kids can be successful students. It doesn’t mean that family time or simple “down-time” has no place in the life of a student. In fact, a school first philosophy recognizes that there must be a balance between academics, family and other activities if a child is going to have the best chance at earning good grades. When parents adopt a school first attitude and instill this principle in their own children, a remarkable thing begins to happen. Children experience less stress, greater motivation, more enjoyment from activities and, of course, academic success.
When it comes to our children’s sense of self-worth and overall happiness, no well-meaning mother or father wants to make a mistake and so the pressure to have well-adjusted and successful kids mounts. No wonder so many of us fall into the trap of believing that our child’s accomplishments (or lack thereof) are a reflection of our abilities as parents. With this in mind, it’s not surprising that our kids are too often kept so busy. In our efforts to be successful parents we taxi our kids to and from sports, recitals, horseback-riding lessons, tutoring sessions, acting lessons, dance, and on and on it goes. The beauty of having a school first attitude is that it brings everything else into perspective and in line with what we have given the most importance to. From there making decisions regarding what activities stay and which must go becomes a much more straightforward process.
Having a school first attitude isn’t always easy. There are so many activities, events and clubs, any of which could be great for our kids. It’s important to understand that activities are extremely valuable in the lives of children. They keep their minds and bodies active and healthy, develop positive self-esteem, can bring parents and children closer together through common interests, and they can even one day lead to a satisfying career. The problem is that when activities make life inflexible and begin to shove away academic success, all of these positive attributes quickly become overshadowed.
How to Balance Extracurricular Activities and Education
Parents must always be prepared to pull back and even stop their son or daughter’s participation in sports or other activities if poor grades become a problem. The good news is that there are many children who engage in activities, even at a demanding elite level, outside of school who are among the most academically successful students in their grade. When you examine the lives of these students more closely, you will often discover that the family has an attitude of “school first.” This philosophy is so important that, no matter what level of success a child may be experiencing in a particular sport or activity, the parents are prepared to cut it away if it interferes with their child’s grades. Their son or daughter, in turn, finds the motivation to succeed academically in order to continue participating in other interests.
Parents need to avoid the pitfall of talking about the importance of education without backing up the talk through their actions. For example, if parents attend every game their child is involved in but rarely, if ever, visit with their son or daughter’s teacher or don’t make much of an effort to enforce a regular homework time at home, a student will have a tough time believing that success in school has much importance. As parents, we should not expect that our children would inherently understand the importance of education, particularly at a young age, unless we not only communicate with them, but also demonstrate it through our interactions with them and their teachers.
Parents can feel like they’re being pulled in so many different directions when it comes to making the right decisions for and with their kids. We are all looking for ways to provide our kids with opportunities to try new things, explore their potential, enjoy friends and family, and be good students. So what do many of us end up doing? We attempt to cram in as much as we can so that they don’t miss out on anything or we dedicate all of our child’s time toward one pursuit at the expense of everything else. So very often it is a student’s grades and, consequently, their future that end up suffering the most. Your child can be a great student and also be active and even great in other pursuits. While there are many variables that go into ensuring your child is a good student and athlete, remembering the basic principles of “school first” will serve as a solid foundation for success.
Read more articles by Acumen Education Lead Consultant Marc Lapointe.
Acumen Education is a custom tailored tutoring company serving the Greater Vancouver Area. Visit their website for more information on study skills and helping your kids to better in school to improve school grades.
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Do you think children these days are involved in too many extracurricular activities? How many activities is too many and how does your family find a balance? Share your thoughts in the Comments section below.