Quality v. Quantity: How to Manage an Overflow of Extracurriculars

Quality v. Quantity: How to Manage an Overflow of Extracurriculars

“Don’t forget,” your 12-year-old yells over his shoulder as he jumps out of the car and heads toward the school building. “We have a mandatory dress rehearsal tonight. Oh and we’re hosting team dinner tomorrow. Oh and I told a few friends we could give them a ride home after school.”

You sigh as you make a mental note to add “team dinner” to your ever-growing to-do list.

Like any good parent, you want your kids to be involved! You want them to be well-rounded and active and a part of a team. But you also want them to keep their grades up, to focus on school, and to have some free time to just be kids.

We get it.

At Lonehollow, we encourage every camper to own their experience by allowing them the unique opportunity to make and follow their own daily schedules.

Keeping the full-circle concept in mind, we allow campers to take six classes per day on a rotating schedule. This gives our counselors time to teach progressing skills from beginning to end and allows campers to truly master said skills. It also prevents campers from spreading themselves too thin.

With more than 60 activity choices spread across six different departments, the options are endless and picking just 12 classes to take can prove pretty difficult for some kids.

While some campers (usually older returners) go into registration knowing exactly what classes they want to take, when they want to take them, and who they want to take them with, the process can be overwhelming and stressful for others, especially for younger campers who are making their own schedules for the first time.

Does it matter when I take Water Games?

Can I double up on Table Tennis?

I really want to take Archery, but the only open class conflicts with Flag Football.

We try to stress the importance of prioritizing to our campers, reminding them to sign up for their favorite classes first and to build their schedules around those must-haves. By allowing campers to make their own schedule (and a few mistakes along the way), we help to reinforce in each camper Asset 32: Planning and Decision Making.

But things can get a little hairy at home, where electives tend to be less elective and school and music lessons and lacrosse practice and bake sales are crawling over each other trying to get (and keep) yours and your child’s attention and energy.

Every opportunity that arises feels like one that can’t be missed, whether it’s an open call for a new play or a resume-boosting volunteer position that would put your kid ahead of the curve. And though most kids (and parents!) have the best of intentions, they oftentimes end up over scheduling themselves.

While your child may not seem too busy (He’s doing the same extracurriculars he did last year), according to KidsHealth.org, children who are too busy always show signs, whether they realize it or not.

Signs include feeling tired, anxious, or depressed, complaining of headaches and stomachaches, and falling behind on schoolwork.

So next time your 11th grader comes home with yet another NHS volunteer opportunity that just so happens to take place on the same day as her piano recital and a week before her SAT, keep these tips from KidsHealth.org in mind before immediately saying yes and clearing a spot on the calendar.

  • Agree on ground rules ahead of time:For instance, plan on kids playing one sport per season or limit activities to two afternoons or evenings during the school week.
  • Know how much time is required:Will there be time to practice between lessons? Does your child realize that soccer practice is twice a week, right after school until dinnertime? Then there’s the weekly game, too. Will homework suffer?
  • Keep a calendar to stay organized:Display it on the refrigerator or in another prominent spot so that everybody can stay up-to-date. And if you find an empty space on the calendar, leave it alone!
  • Even if kids sign up for the season, let them miss one or two sessions:Sometimes taking the opportunity to hang out on a beautiful day is more important than going to one more activity, even if you’ve already paid for it.
  • Try to carpool with other parents to make life easier.
  • Try to balance activities for all of your kids — and yourself:It hardly seems fair to spend time and energy carting one kid to activities, leaving little time for another. And take time for yourself, to do the things you enjoy, and to spend time together as a family.
  • Set priorities:School should come first. If kids have a hard time keeping up academically, they may need to drop an activity.
  • Know when to say no:If your child is already doing a lot but really wants to take on another activity, discuss what other activity or activities need to be dropped to make room for the new one.
  • Remember the importance of downtime:Everyone needs a chance to relax!

Prioritizing is key, and sometimes it’s best to prioritize your sanity –and your camper’s! So stop fretting about team dinner and instead tell your fellow parents to meet at your favorite pizza place. Tomorrow will seem that much easier!


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