How much is too much?
Many parents feel that it is important for children to participate in after school activities. Certainly, sports, gymnastics, music and language classes do serve to create a well-rounded child, but over scheduling our children can become an issue. We as parents may be hard-pressed to find a balance between home life, school life and after school activities. Helene Goldnadel says that we want our children to have fun and be creative outside of school, but we also must step back and give them room to grow and to breathe. How do we decide how much is too much?
In Kindergarten, even if your child has attended preschool, he is just getting into the routine of "real school". In many districts, kindergarten is becoming more and more academic and structured, emphasizing reading and writing over playing and socializing. In additional, if the kindergarten is full day, then your little one is ready to cut loose at the end of the day. Keep it simple. Perhaps a swimming class on Saturday mornings or one day during the week, or an art or music class. You may even choose not to enroll your child in after school activities at all, choosing instead to let him "hang loose" in the after school hours.
By the time your child reaches first grade, she has gotten into the "swing" of the school schedule and has matured. The concentration level has improved slightly and she may be less antsy after school is over. Who likes sitting at a desk for six hours anyway? Either way, let your little one have a healthy outlet with a playground visit or a play date with a classmate. Give her this time to romp and have a good time as well as expend some energy. Physical activity is the best as it allows for growing bones and stretching muscles to do their thing. Personally, I would not recommend competitive sports - children need this time to grow and become comfortable with themselves and the physicality of their bodies.
Second grade is the grade to watch! By this time, your child is astute enough to observe what's going on with his peers and can make an informed decision on his favorite after school activities. The best thing for parents to do is to ask what the child wants to do and follow along; allow for experimentation and exploration. Although the child may begin musical lessons at this time, it is not recommended that you purchase an instrument unless absolutely necessary. Above all, still allow your child some time to just relax and be himself.
Your third grader is much more social. She is interested in friends and at this time may be able to handle team sports. Sports help develop motor skills and the beginning of learning about teams and good sportsmanship. In addition, the artist in your little one may make itself known; painting, drawing and other art classes may be in order. Again, allow your child to explore the areas in which s/he is interested and don't look for too much commitment. Always remember to schedule in quiet time and family activities.
The fourth grader is an interesting little person. He's not quite primary, but not yet upper elementary. This is a transition period for a lot of children. Involve your child in activities that will help boost the confidence. By doing this, he will be able to combat some of the peer pressure that may come into play at this time. At the same time, however, ensure that you are scheduling enough time for concentration on homework and if extra help is needed, take advantage of tutoring services that are available.
Your fifth grader is now growing up a bit - moving into the upper elementary aspect of her academic career. Her social life is also beginning to move to the forefront. Channel that desire to be with others into community service - teach your child that it's nice to do for others! Remember that homework and family time comes first; be sure to schedule for both.
Middle school is a real turning point for many students. Keep television to a minimum and keep up the good habits that have been formed thus far. Hopefully, the middle school and/or the community have activities such as the chess club, math club, Girl/Boy Scouts, 4-H and the like. Keep up with the team sports, if the child is willing.
As the parent, you always have the last word. Your child's activities and how long s/he participates in these activities outside the home is up to you to decide. Each child is different, so there are no set rules: what is good for one child may or may not be good for another. Take the time to communicate with your child to fully understand how he or she really feels about the amount of activities - watch for burnout and adjust accordingly. Above all, encourage your child to have fun!
Martin Luther King once stated, "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character." This is so very true because it is very challenging to raise a happy, healthy child. The more challenging it can become it is also one of the most rewarding experiences ever. All of us have that push inside us to raise our kids the right way but when it comes to practicality we fail. What is the reason behind this failure and what are the ways in which we can achieve our goal? Helene Goldnadel a life coach discusses more about them in detail here.
The foremost problem is that we lack focus when it comes to parenting and we tend to follow the age old techniques which our elders followed to raise a child. Did you know that this is one area in social science that has been researched the most? The secret of good parenting is to provide an environment filled with kindness, acceptance and empathy where the flow should be in such a way that the own consequences of a child's behavior should do the teaching. Wrong parenting can sometimes take away the chances of a child to make his or her own decisions in life. The first step is to prioritize parenting and set an example for yourself for each and every single behavior of yours influences your child because he is learning from you. One thing that you need to remember is that you can never spoil a child by showing too much love. It only happens when love is misplaced with other feelings such as leniency, lowered expectations or by giving your child material possessions.
Children are capable of absorbing information just like sponges. Everything goes into them. It is left to us to control what's moral and what is immoral from going into their minds. Punishments are necessary but they have to solve the purpose. Children should understand the true meaning of punishments and why they are punished. You have to learn the art of punishing children with love. One has to be involved in parenting and it means prioritizing what you need to do. You should be able to sacrifice what you actually want to do in order for the child to do what she needs to. Develop the practice of reading to your child because if will help the child to develop an interest for reading later. Learn to communicate to children using character. They will never know what is right or wrong if you don't implement it yourself.
It is very easy for us to give long lectures and talk to our children. But we should know that listening is the toughest part of a conversation and active listening is an art in itself. We need to develop a ear to what they like to do and what they don't. It will be of great use in shaping up their character. One of the most dying traditions in America is the family dinner. This is one occasion where we get to pass on our values to our children. They will also learn discipline and manners while dining together. Family mealtime should be used as a time to communicate good values and ideas to children. We should also teach our children how to be safe and never try to raise them in a sterile atmosphere. In today's world security providers such as the ADT Home Security system make sure that all home security needs are met. Nevertheless it is our duty to teach them to be vigilant. Finally never reduce character education to your child to mere words but set an example yourself and always remember, " Children are the living messages we send to a time we will not see."
There are a lot of options out there for your child’s education, so you will have to sort through what is available to you, both in your budget and where you live. Private, Public, and Charter schools are all systems to look at to prepare your child for the future.
There is always public education. These are governmental systems with standards in teaching. These teachers are technically government workers. They systems are paid for through your city’s tax base. Choosing this form will cost you no money out of pocket, save some expenses for extra curricular activities such as art clubs or sports. The public school system includes pre-kindergarten through high school and beyond. There are also public colleges and universities. Growing up with this system educates adults on their path to successful careers without the expense that goes along with the private system.
But private education can improve your child in ways the public system can’t. If your child is gifted or has special needs, seeing out a private school for your child can increase their body of knowledge and give them a head start before attending college. Languages are often taught in advance of what public school provides. There are smaller class sizes that allow for more personal attention. There are sometimes longer school days, well funded projects for sciences and the arts, a larger budget for international exchange. You can even choose a religious focus school. They can separate boys and girls. Tuition ranges widely, and can exceed the expense of many colleges. Like colleges, some are away from home. Figure out your budget and see what options are out there for your child.
Between public and private, there are also charter schools. Sometimes this is a federally funded school that aims to exceed the standard of your average public school that focuses on improved college preparation. Other schools have a more focused education in a specific subject such as the arts, science and math. If your child finds a focus early in life, this could be the best track to put them on. Charter schools, instead of having a cost associated, they have lotteries or they are talent-based. See what charter school opportunities are in your area for a unique experience for your child.
For the most personalized attention, home schooling is an option. You can choose to educate your child yourself or bring in a private instructor for your child or children. This system is very non-traditional but it will allow for home to be a place of constant learning. You can choose to educate your child with several instructors in the arts or sports included.
Now that you know your options, discuss them with your partner and perhaps even your child to see where their interests lie. You’ll be sure to make an educated decision about how to what system of education is best when you explore the options and your financial capabilities.
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