From a father and educator’s perspective, Leonard Stanley is here to give you some advice – whether it’s questions about school, your teenager, family life, expat life or if you just need a dad’s point of view. In Advice from Dad, he answers your tough questions and gets a parent’s perspective.
The older my kids get, the more hours they put into their extracurricular activities. How can I help my kids balance hobbies and school work better?
As children get older there is no denying that they also get busier. This increased level of activity is not just reserved for their academic pursuits. As they expand their horizons and grow more interested in the world around them, their schedules begin to fill up with more extracurricular activities. The challenge as a parent now becomes, how do you find an optimal balance between your child’s hobbies and schoolwork?
Step one: Education Before Recreation
The first thing you must do when attempting to strike a balance between academics and additional activities your child may participate in is you must emphasize the importance of schoolwork. They must understand that while they will be adding things to their schedule, they are doing so with an understanding that their education is the priority and if they begin to suffer in school, then they will no longer be able to participate in their chosen hobbies. This instills a sense of responsibility and also establishes expectations they will have to adhere to if they are to continue having fun outside of the classroom. They realize it is a privilege to be able to participate in clubs or sports teams outside of school and you may even see better grades as they attempt to prove they can do both.
Step two: Limitations and Preparation
Children can have many diverse interests and a desire to join every team, play every instrument, or be a member of every club. As parents, we have to be able to help manage those expectations realistically. This means saying no to certain requests and limiting the number of extracurricular activities they can be a part of. Organize their recreation schedule into semesters and allow for them to do multiple things, just not at the same time.
Another aspect is preparing ahead of time to ensure that they can complete their homework. Take a look at your weekly schedule and see which days should be allocated as homework days. Make sure it is a lighter day during the week and try to get the lion share of the academic work done then. Obviously you should be ideally working on something academic every day,but truthfully we must acknowledge that certain days will be better suited than others to focus on homework.
Hobbies and extracurricular activities are an essential part of the holistic development of a child and should not be ignored. You should try to include as many activities as you can fit into your child’s schedule within reason.
Leonard Stanley was born and raised in Washington D.C., and has lived in Shanghai since 2009 with his wife and two young children Kyle (12) and Christopher (8). Leonard teaches Theory of Knowledge as well as Language & Literature at the Western International School of Shanghai.
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