Define “Overscheduled” Child

8 Nov

My 5 year-old daughter attends a wonderful Montessori school Monday-Friday from 8:15 am to 3pm.  She is also taking Suzuki violin which requires a minimum of 10 minutes (ideally 25-30 minutes) of practice a day.  Then on Mondays she has yoga at school from 3-3:45pm.  Tuesdays is Suzuki violin lesson from 3:30-4pm.  Saturdays is creative movement dance class from 10:15-11am.  Sundays we have church/Sunday school from 10-11am.

On top of the above regular schedule, there are two seasonal activities, Wednesday evening from 6-6:45pm is choir & music at church and then Sundays (from Oct-Dec) from 4:30-6pm is her weekly rehearsal for The Children’s Nutcracker.

Of course, the next layer is the periodic/random events, parties, playdates, family activities, etc.

So, based on the above, do you think she’s “over scheduled?”  Honestly, for the typical healthy and energy filled 5 year-old I would say No.  Personally, I believe having a child involved in activities that he/she enjoys is very fruitful.  It (1) nourishes their interests (2) sharpens their social skills (3) developes hobbies, possibly for life (4) provides opportunities to build friendships and (5) some would say keeps them active/busy and out of trouble/boredom.

However, unfortunately my 5 year-old has asthma and allergies and her immune system just doesn’t seem to be as strong as the average kid.  When a cold/cough/virus or anything hits her…it usually take her 2-3 times the amount of time to get over it than the average healthy kid :-(    Once she gets hit with a cough, cold, strep, etc. it is almost sure to be followed with her asthma kicking in.  It’s quite sad as she truly enjoys all the activities above – no “tiger parent” here forcing her to perform! 

So, we (and she) get sad when she has to miss out on some events/activities…but these are the cards we were dealt and are evaluating if a set class/activity needs to be dropped off her schedule…

What kind of schedule do you have for your kids?  I’d love to hear about it and your experience/thoughts…please leave a comment.

FYI – I found the article ‘Overscheduled Kids: How Too Many Activities Affect Moms And Dads’ from HuffingtonPost.Com to be a good read and ‘Family Happiness and the Overbooked Child’ from TheNewYorkTimes.Com provides another similar point of view.  Time Magazine’s 2007 article ‘The Overscheduled Child Myth’ provides a different point of view along with some statistics related to juvenile pregnancy, violence and crime.

4 Responses to “Define “Overscheduled” Child”

  1. favouriteworkofart November 8, 2011 at 10:38 AM #

    My 5-year old son, classified as gifted, has school every day, 7.30-1.15 and stays in extracurricular activities (swimming and football) until 3.20 two days a week. He plays tennis on Saturday morning for two hours. Aside from this, we try to keep his schedule free as much as possible, aside from play dates, as we do notice that when he takes on too many activities he gets tired and irritable. We’re of the opinion that he is only 5 (a mere baby still, really) and that if we’re as supportive as we can be, regarding his academic activities, keep him telly-viewing free (allowing him to play imaginatively) and allowing him the opportunity to engage in sports he enjoys (for him to get rid of his excess energy), he’ll learn all the skills he’ll need to do well in future, whilst still being able to enjoy his childhood. Childhood is so fleeting, really, we feel he should be allowed to enjoy it without tying him to additional scheduled activities. Its amazing to see how much he learns himself, just from playing: the other day, drawing and playing with numbers, he asked whether numbers ever end, for example, sparking a discussion about infinity. Had he been in an adult-directed activity, he might not have generated this question and the discussion might not have arisen. Children need time to think, freely, just like adults do!

    • Craigslistdad November 8, 2011 at 10:45 AM #

      Thanks for the reply/comment and sharing what works for your family! Yes, kids are amazing! They are sponges, ready to absorb information, they have so much creative juices flowing and asking questions and having a discussion is wonderful for family interaction🙂

  2. Carroll January 23, 2012 at 9:23 AM #

    We live in a fairly affluent town in the NorthEast and send our girls to private school. I’m a real outlier most of the time, as I feel parents are driving kids way to hard on way too many fronts. Parents & kids In my eldest daughter’s freshman class started talking about college in middle-school (choosing extracurricular activities that will “look good” on college applications & taking math classes over the summer to “get ahead”). With a group of moms, I tried to suggest that a kid’s inner drive determines their “success” in the working world more than the college they attend. This did not go over well!
    On the bleacher’s of my 11 year daughter’s ice hockey game, the conversation always seems to degenerate to parents one-upping each other as to how many games junior (or little miss, as the case may be) played that weekend or how many teams they are on…to my dismay many of the girls are enrolled on 3-4 teams and just don’t show when there are conflicts! I can barely see my daughter to games and practices of one team, but do our best as we feel teaching her that committing to a team actually means something.
    My children do well, but are not the top of their class or the best on their teams. All I care about is that they are happy, well adjusted and well rested. My girls love their sports, but it seems we have to choose between a crazy over booked schedule (for our single team) or sitting on the couch. Is there no happy, middle ground?

    • Craigslistdad January 26, 2012 at 8:17 AM #

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts and story, Carroll. These decisions are personal for each family, and what works for one probably does not work for the other…my personal bottom line is I want my kids to be challenged and enjoy life and learning. Keep up the good work with your family!

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