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

Linguistic red flags from Facebook posts can predict future depression diagnoses

October 15, 2018
In any given year, depression affects more than 6 percent of the adult population in the United States—some 16 million people—but fewer than half receive the treatment they need. What if an algorithm could scan social ...

Early changes to synapse gene regulation may cause Alzheimer's disease

October 15, 2018
Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the most common form of dementia, involving memory loss and a reduction in cognitive abilities. Patients with AD develop multiple abnormal protein structures in their brains that are thought to ...

Clues that suggest people are lying may be deceptive, study shows

October 12, 2018
The verbal and physical signs of lying are harder to detect than people believe, a study suggests.

Why don't we understand statistics? Fixed mindsets may be to blame

October 12, 2018
Unfavorable methods of teaching statistics in schools and universities may be to blame for people ignoring simple solutions to statistical problems, making them hard to solve. This can have serious consequences when applied ...

From 'problem child' to 'prodigy'? LSD turns 75

October 12, 2018
Lysergic acid diethylamide was labelled a "problem child" by the man who discovered its hallucinogenic properties in 1943: as it turns 75, the drug known as LSD may now be changing its image.

How to avoid raising a materialistic child

October 12, 2018
If you're a parent, you may be concerned that materialism among children has been on the rise. According to research, materialism has been linked to a variety of mental health problems, such as anxiety and depression, as ...

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.