L.A. Parent: Ask the Experts | Extracurriculars–How Much Is Too Much
L.A. Parent recently interviewed Suzanne Silverstein, MA, ART, founding director of the Share & Care program at Cedars-Sinai, for advice about how parents can avoid overwhelming children with too many extracurricular activities and how to strike the right balance.
Silverstein spoke with L.A. Parent about how many activities are ideal during the school year, how age factors into choosing activities and what to do if your child wants to participate in everything or nothing at all.
“Every child is different,” Silverstein told L.A. Parent. “How one child engages in extracurricular activities might be completely different from another child. The first step is to talk to your child about their interests…Give them the opportunity to experience the activities they are interested in.”
But it’s important to make sure children can manage their schoolwork, Silverstein said, even if they’re having fun.
“Do they seem stressed by having after-school activities because they are falling behind with their schoolwork? Are they going to bed on time, or are they staying up late trying to complete their work? As a parent, you may need to cut out activities if your child is unable to manage their workload, even if they are enjoying their activities,” Silverstein told L.A. Parent.
Regarding guidelines based on age, Silverstein advised exposing younger children to many activities until one seems to spark interest. She said that older children will generally let you know what they like.
Silverstein also recommended patience if children don’t want to participate in any extracurricular activities at all. “It’s important to see your child for who they are,” she told L.A. Parent. “Ultimately, you want to help your child develop into their own person, not the person you might want them to be.”
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