How Busy is Too Busy?

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By, Susan Heckler

Every child is an individual, the below is a guideline which may need some customizing based on your child’s wants, needs, and abilities.

Grade-by-Grade at a Glance

  • Kindergarten should be simple and free — one or two after-school activities a week are more than enough. A great choice may involve their creative and/or physical side, such as an art, dance, or music program.
  • Grade 1 should balance social play with one or two days of an after-school activity per week. This is a good age to try sports as an outlet to play and run and start a healthy, active lifestyle.
  • Grade 2 your child already has some preferences. Sports are always good and you can try swimming or skating, computers, or art or music lessons. They can start learning a musical instrument now. Give your child at least one or two days free a week for down time or unscheduled time.
  • Grade 3 needs time to move and socialize after school. Team sports are a great choice and so is anything to develop and use fine motor skills, such as painting, sewing, or learning to play an instrument.
  • Grade 4 the school work demands are higher so keep an eye on their grades so they are not too stressed. One or two activities a week are great, especially those that involve groups and socializing too.
  • Grade 5 is a good time to schedule some family time so it isn’t overlooked with activities and a social life. At this age, they usually want to be everywhere and do everything but keep an eye out for burn out.
  • Middle School is a great age to keep them on the move and away from the electronics that pull them away from being social and physically active. Encourage your preteen to spend time volunteering, to join school clubs like band, chess, or foreign language clubs, or to sign up for extracurriculars with a leadership element, such as the school newspaper or student council. It is a good time to feel connected to the school community while forging friendships based in common interests and experi- ences. They should be spending fewer than 20 hours a week participating in after-school activities in order for their grades to not suffer.