Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Over Scheduling Kids - Summertime Activities

Most parents reach this dilemma at one point or another: Are you kids over scheduled during the summer break?

A lot of this will depend on your homeschooling style. Some homeschool families do not have a homeschooling program that keeps them doing curriculum year round. Other homeschool families will have a program that allows for a summer break. Others will have a schedule like mine and your kids should have a summer break but because you are flexible throughout the year you end up using your summer to finish up the work.

It used to be that I thought that working on school through the summer was all bad but the kids don't mind being in and busy during the heat of the day. They also don't fall out of the habits that we created during the traditional school year. I guess the bottom line is that there are pros and cons either way.

As for over scheduling: whether you have curriculum to finish or not how much are your kids doing during the summer? Is yours a house where the children spend all summer on video game systems or watching television? Or are they enrolled in every sport and music lesson possible as well as church activities, Scouting and community activities? It is a hard balance to find and naturally, as with all things, it varies with each child. I know that my oldest is capable of being much more busy than my third child. His energy level and attention span can take more.

There are also children that need more time with their parents than others. My kids are great about being home all day and just doing what is needed here but a few are more ready to be gone for a majority of the day and then my second born needs more time with me. He needs the time to talk, to be heard and understood and to feel like he is okay in his corner of the world. As a parent, I am flawed, and this is not always remembered but on my better days I try to make sure that his needs are met.

It is my opinion from reading and life experience that kids grow and blossom when they have structured activities that expose them to new things and new people. They learn new talents and their self esteem sky rockets.

On the flip side, children who are over scheduled and doing too much suffer from depression, anxiety, lack of self esteem and more. These kids feel like their parents would rather pawn them off on strangers and activities rather than sit and have a game of Uno with them. That just isn't right and no one in the family benefits from that.

The advice would be to ask the child what they would like to do. Be careful because some children are natural over achievers and will want to over schedule. You are the parent. You should always preface this kind of conversation with something like "I want your input on this but after hearing your views and ideas I need you to be respectful of the decision made on your behalf from parents who want what is best for you". Yes, that sounds like something out of Leave it to Beaver but you get the drift.

Kids need time to be kids, to get into mischief. It wouldn't even be bad if your children were not enrolled in any activities through the summer if you are disciplined enough to keep them away from the monitors in the house. Television, computers and video games are great but only in moderation. Perhaps you should start by analyzing what your children's natural tendencies are and then go from there. You will have a better idea of what they will do on their own and what may help break them out of it or help them get outside and be active.

Most of all, spend some time with your kids this summer. Don't over schedule yourself. Homeschooling is wonderful but just because you may be home all day to "school" them doesn't mean that you are always spending great time with them. My kids get excited just by me sitting through a movie with them and showing interest in it. They love to share those experiences. They even love it if we play a video game all together and laugh and play. Make your summer memorable and make memories together no matter what your schedule. Perhaps you should schedule your family time into your life.

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