Striking the Balance

After-school activities are a great way for your children to grow and learn skills like teamwork and creativity, but these activities can quickly get in the way of responsibilities at school. How do you strike the balance between school and after-school activities?

Here are some tips for helping you find the proper balance for your child:

Prepare a Schedule

Create a schedule for a typical week. Unless your child’s activity schedule changes dramatically from week to week, you should only have to do this once. Minor variations won’t disrupt the master schedule.

Begin by estimating how much time it will take you child to complete their school work every day. Consult with your child’s teacher for guidelines if necessary. Block out a reasonable time each day on the schedule.

Account for the time requirements for your child’s activities. Block in the time requirements for all activities and make adjustments, if necessary, in the school schedule to allow for activity days.

Don’t forget to include time for your child to spend with friend. Down time is important as well. Your child needs time to recharge the batteries and a little TV or video game time may be just the thing. Include chores and family responsibilities as well.

If your child is old enough, allow them to create the schedule with your guidance. This will ensure that they understand their responsibilities and obligations.

Take a look at the final schedule and make any adjustments in order to create a balance of school and home time to play and activity time.

Monitor School Performance

Stay in touch with your child’s teacher. Monitor homework sessions and act on any notes or unfavorable progress reports from your child’s school. At the first sign of trouble, talk with your child about his or her responsibilities. Come up with a plan for bringing the grades back up and adjust the schedule, if necessary.

If things don’t improve, then consider limiting the number of activities your child participates in or the time spent participating in each activity. Remind your child that school work is the priority and comes before everything else.

Watch Your Child for Signs of Stress

Often a child will express stress and frustration through changed behavior. He or she may start crying, yelling, or behaving erratically. This could be a sign that your child is involved in too many activities or is feeling pressure. Talk with your child about where the problem is and take steps to correct it. Cut down on activities if it’s creating too much pressure.

After-school activities provide many benefits for young and developing children, including fun and entertainment. But children need to remember that they can only happen once school work is taken care of. Set the expectation early with your children and stay on top of them to make sure they are not overwhelmed.

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