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Achieving the right balance

We all understand the importance of having hobbies and interests outside school, but how much is too much? I was talking to a couple of parents a few days ago and, well frankly they seemed a bit frazzled! One of the mothers had two children, each of whom had an after-school activity almost every night of the week, plus swimming lessons on Saturdays. She was concerned that it might be too much for her children, but at the same time seemed reluctant for them to give up anything.

As parents we want the very best for our children. Of course we want them to do well academically, but social skills are important too. And having interests outside school is a great way of helping your child become a well-rounded individual. However, some children end up so over-committed that they have hardly any down-time at all. Now clearly this isn't ideal, particularly as it's also important to make sure that you have time to do things as a family too.

How much is too much?

Ultimately it depends on the child; however as a minimum I'd suggest that you ensure that one day of the weekend and one evening from Monday-Friday is kept free for family time.

If you are concerned that your child is doing too much, take some time to talk it over with them. Ask them how they feel: do they feel like they're doing too much? Or are they quite happy with things as they are? Think about how they seem too. Do they seem to be getting worn out? Over-tired, grumpy?

How should you handle it?

If you do think that they're doing too much, think about what they could cut back on. Ideally this should be something which is decided in conjunction with your child.

There may be some activities which they are quite happy to give up. Although again here, I'd suggest that you temper their judgement: if you leave it entirely up to them as to which activities they do, you may find that the bias is too strongly swayed towards one particular activity. And you might think that something academic like their Maths tutoring is not something which they should give up on yet!

Play & pretend

Take some family time and play a game. What are you doing? can be played by the whole family - and the sillier it gets, the better!

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