Activities like sports, art classes, and musical lessons offer kids a great chance to discover and explore their interests. But many parents worry about whether they've overscheduled their kids and should scale back. To help you find a good balance for your child, we've rounded up five key questions to consider.
1. Are They Struggling in School?
"Are they succeeding in school and getting their school work done?" asks Circle of Moms member Linda S. If your child is falling behind in schoolwork or performing poorly on tests, their activities may be crowding out academics.
2. Are They Getting Enough Sleep?
Activities shouldn't come at the cost of sleep. As Linda S. also asks, "Are they feeling overwhelmed and tired most the time?" If your child is consistently up late studying, take a good at your child's schedule to see if she has enough time outside of her activities to get to bed on time. (See also The Best Bedtime for Your Child)
3. Do They Have Unstructured Down-Time?
"If a child is running from activity to activity all day long, whether in the home, on the athletic field, moving from lesson to lesson, or anything else without periods of down-time in between, the child is overscheduled," says Dr. Marie-Claire Moreau of the blog Quick Start Homeschool. She emphasizes the importance of unstructured time, when a child can "play quietly with LEGO sets, draw pictures, watch a quiet television movie," or read.
4. Are They Getting Quality Family Time?
Another clue that a child is overscheduled is the amount of family time she gets. "Do they have down time in their day not to play video or watch TV, but to relax and sit down to a family meal?" asks Linda S. "Kids need family time more than they need too many activities." Jennifer Knopf of the blog Herding Kats in Kindergarten agrees: "I think that if a child truly loves an activity then they should be encouraged to pursue it, but not at the cost of family time."
5. Have They Asked to Stop?
It sounds obvious, but when a child asks to stop an activity, parents often worry whether letting their child "quit" sets a bad precedent. But as Lynn V. relays, quitting isn't always a bad thing. "We started my son in sports when he was three, and he's always had 2-3 sports, classes or activities going at once. My daughter wasn't as into them, and only did 1-2 things at once. They're ten and eight now, and asked to slow down, so they're only in swimming right now. They wanted more time to play with their friends, and the Wii and X Box...Let your kids tell you what they should be doing, and if it's too much."
Every Child is Different
Ultimately, you know your child best. As Lynn V. shares, the definition of an overscheduled child really varies: “It depends on your kids, and how they are reacting to their activities. If they don't want to go, are falling asleep at school or in the car, falling behind in their homework or grades, or asking to have more time to play with their friends, then it's too much. If they love their activities, want to go, and are handling it well, then keep going until they want to slow down."
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.