We are in full swing with the extracurricular activities of autumn. Whether your student is public, private, or homeschooled, the fall can be a busy season. Perhaps your student is trying out new activities, has just made the varsity football team, or is pursuing a unique leadership adventure. The activity calendar is always in a state of flux: exciting things added, old things dropped, different opportunities presenting themselves, or hoped for chances drying up.
Because this aspect of our lives and our children’s lives is never static, we can wake up one day and realize that the schedule is not what we planned and possibly not what we want. Thus, it is critical for any family to step back and evaluate the direction that they are headed and look at things from a holistic vantage point.
Many activities are good proving grounds for living life as an adult. They teach important skills such as dealing with people, organizing an event, working on a team, pushing the body to its limit, caring for others, training the ear to hear or the eye to see. By the same token, there are activities that promote teenage groupthink, accomplish nothing of value, and waste the precious resource of time. Our kids come out the other end no better for the experience. Make sure you know which kind of pursuit your child is investing their life in.
A reasonable number of activities, classes, and responsibilities will force our teen to learn to manage their time – something absolutely essential if they are to thrive in college. The balancing act will cause them to dig deep and tap hidden resources to work quicker, think smarter, and accomplish more in limited time. The flip side of that is overwhelm where kids don’t get enough sleep, deliver substandard performances, and are drained of joy. It is important for a parent to monitor their student’s health and state of mind.
Extracurricular activities help lay a foundation during a very formative time. They are often a useful thing to help our student figure out who they are and what they have to offer. How a student chooses to spend their time also tells others a lot about them, which is why college admissions officers ask for activity lists and short essays. Colleges are looking for a long commitment to a few things and grow concerned if they see four years of random choices and pursuits. They know that students who’ve committed to the long haul will come to them more mature and ready to contribute.
Thoughtfully selected extracurricular activities can teach our kids many things and impact their future. Make those choices wisely!
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