There is an abundance of wonderful opportunities for after school clubs and activities these days from football, dance, rugby, swimming and any sport you can think of, to music, scouting and drama, just to name a few. It is becoming increasingly difficult to find the right balance between keeping children busy, allowing them to learn new skills they would otherwise miss out on and ensuring they still have plenty of free time and relaxation.
I believe it’s important children have lots of time for free play, to run around outside and explore their own environment themselves. This is how children learn best, through experience. They also need time to relax and unwind, play with friends and use their own imagination. It is an essential part of growing up.
However, clubs and activities have their place too, for example swimming. It is a life skill that could save a life one day. Schools don’t appear to teach swimming to any great extent, so it is up to the parents to ensure children learn, which inevitably means after school classes.
After school clubs provide social interaction and the opportunity to learn new skills. Many keep children active, which has to be a good thing. They help children find friends outside of school and give kids an interest or hobby.
This is all good, but the difficulty comes when trying to find the right balance between after school activities and allowing them enough free time to be themselves and unwind. How many clubs should children attend?
If kids attend too many, are they in danger of being over stimulated? Will they in turn not have enough time to unwind each day, to explore things for themselves? Will they be at risk of being bored whenever they are not being provided with entertainment? This is worrying, children need to learn how to amuse themselves and if they are provided with activities and stimulation all the time, how can they possibly learn to amuse themselves?
On the other hand, by keeping kids busy attending clubs, are we helping ensure they have a hobby and maybe stay out of trouble? I attended many after school clubs and activities from music to swimming and guiding. I loved all of it, stayed out of trouble and was never in danger of being bored as I had so many hobbies. This has to be a good example, though I’m sure others may have a different story.
There is also another point to consider, the impact on the whole family. When you have multiple children who all want to attend several clubs in different locations…..well, that’s just a pure logistical nightmare and the parents end up being taxi drivers, often carting younger siblings here there and everywhere too! There is also the cost implication. Clubs and activities, don’t come cheap, how do you prioritize?
There are many pros and cons to this subject and we all need to find the right balance for our own children and family.
What do you think? How many after school clubs is the right amount for children to belong to?