Are your children overdoing it? Too many extracurricular activities can do more harm than good

May 14, 2018, Taylor & Francis
The typical weekly extracurricular activity schedules of a subset of the studied children. Credit: © Taylor & Francis Group, 2018.

The growing demand for children to get involved in organized activities outside of school is placing unprecedented strain upon families.

A new study, published in Taylor & Francis journal Sport, Education and Society, reveals just how significant a role extracurricular activities, such as music lessons and sports clubs, play in .

Attempting to understand the impact 's extracurricular activities is having on life, researchers interviewed almost 50 families from twelve primary schools in North-West England.

They discovered that the majority of children—88% - took part in organized activities on four to five days per week, with 58% doing more than one in an evening. Extracurricular involvement was therefore found to dominate family life, especially for families with more than one child.

Consequently, families were spending less quality time together, and ' money and energy reserves were often depleted. One mother referred to 'knackered' children who 'don't get in until 9 or 10pm', admitting that she was 'sadly, over the moon' when something was cancelled.

Explaining these findings, researchers pointed towards growing pressure from fellow parents, children, and schools for children to have a busy extracurricular schedule.

As the study's lead author, Dr. Sharon Wheeler, comments: "We know that parents are particularly keen to ensure their children get on in life. Parents initiate and facilitate their children's participation in organized activities as it shows that they are 'good' parents. They hope that such activities will benefit their children in both the short-term (by keeping them fit and healthy, and helping them to develop friendship groups) and longer-term (by improving their job prospects).

"However, our research highlights that the reality can be somewhat different. While children might experience some of these benefits, a busy organized schedule can put considerable strain on parents' resources and families' relationships, as well as potentially harm children's development and wellbeing."

Although multiple car ownership and a rise in time-poor working mums have increased the accessibility and convenience of extracurricular activities, Wheeler warns parents to be mindful of overdoing it.

"Raising awareness of this issue can help those parents who feel under pressure to invest in their children's organized activities, and are concerned with the impact of such activities on their family, to have the confidence to plan a less hectic schedule for their children.

"Until a healthy balance is struck, will continue to take precedence over family time, potentially doing more harm than good."

Explore further: How much is too much? UT expert offers tips on kids' extracurricular activities

More information: Sharon Wheeler et al, 'The helping, the fixtures, the kits, the gear, the gum shields, the food, the snacks, the waiting, the rain, the car rides … ': social class, parenting and children's organised activities, Sport, Education and Society (2018). DOI: 10.1080/13573322.2018.1470087

Related Stories

How much is too much? UT expert offers tips on kids' extracurricular activities

September 3, 2012
Involving children in extracurricular activities builds greater self-esteem and leadership skills. Children learn teamwork, do better in school, and stay healthier.

What your kids want to tell you about social media

April 9, 2018
(HealthDay)—Memo to Mom and Dad: Rein in your screen time.

Early numeracy performance of young kids linked to specific math activities at home

March 22, 2018
New research links specific numerical activities undertaken by parents to certain math skills in young children. Published today in open-access journal Frontiers in Psychology, the study also finds that the more parents engage ...

Afterschool clubs aren't always safe spaces—what should be done about it

January 25, 2018
Young people around the world are encouraged to get involved in extracurricular activities. These range from choirs and drama clubs to sports teams, with many other options available depending on the school. These activities ...

Pediatricians can help when parents divorce: report

November 28, 2016
(HealthDay)—A pediatrician can play an important part in helping children adjust when their parents split up, a new American Academy of Pediatrics report says.

Recommended for you

Early life trauma in men associated with reduced levels of sperm microRNAs

May 22, 2018
Exposure to early life trauma can lead to poor physical and mental health in some individuals, which can be passed on to their children. Studies in mice show that at least some of the effects of stress can be transmitted ...

Training compassion 'muscle' may boost brain's resilience to others' suffering

May 22, 2018
It can be distressing to witness the pain of family, friends or even strangers going through a hard time. But what if, just like strengthening a muscle or learning a new hobby, we could train ourselves to be more compassionate ...

Study finds popular 'growth mindset' educational interventions aren't very effective

May 22, 2018
A new study co-authored by researchers at Michigan State University and Case Western Reserve University found that "growth mindset interventions," or programs that teach students they can improve their intelligence with effort—and ...

Schizophrenics' blood has more genetic material from microbes

May 22, 2018
The blood of schizophrenia patients features genetic material from more types of microorganisms than that of people without the debilitating mental illness, research at Oregon State University has found.

Kids show adult-like intuition about ownership

May 22, 2018
Children as young as age three are able to make judgements about who owns an object based on its location, according to a study from the University of Waterloo.

Age-related racial disparity in suicide rates among US youth

May 21, 2018
New research suggests the suicide rate is roughly two times higher for black children ages 5-12 compared with white children of the same age group. The study, funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), appears ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.