How much is too much?
I think having kids in after-school activities is great! I am all for extra-curricular activities, after all, as a piano teacher, I am one.
There is so much out there these days for kids to do. Dance, Sports, Music, Art, Scouts, Church Activities, Foreign Languages, Theater, and on and on. As parents we want our kids to thrive. We want them to experience what the world has to offer. We want the best for them. But, is there such a thing as too many activities for kids? If there is, how much is too much? And what does this have to do with piano lessons?
I think most of us would agree that it is possible to over-schedule our kids. Here is a quote from an article in Psychology Today:
Alvin Rosenfeld, M.D., a child psychiatrist and author of The Over-Scheduled Child: Avoiding the Hyper-Parenting Trap, believes that enrolling children in too many activities is a nationwide problem.
“Over-scheduling our children is not only a widespread phenomenon, but it’s also how we parent today,” he says. “Parents feel remiss that they’re not being good parents if their kids aren’t in all kinds of activities. Children are under pressure to achieve, to be competitive. I know sixth-graders who are already working on their resume’s so they’ll have an edge when they apply for college.”
As a piano teacher, I advise my student’s parents against putting their kids in too many activities. One reason is simple. Children need time to practice if they are going to learn to play a musical instrument. I have had students who are so busy, that they literally do not have 30 minutes per day to spend practicing. As a result, they can’t learn to play well.
But I believe there are other more important reasons not to over-schedule our kids. Children need time to think, to dream, to imagine…To just be.
Actually, we all need these things. Especially those of us in the arts.
Musicians young and old alike need time to listen to great music, time to be silent, time to improvise. Time to read classic books, stories, and poems. Time to view the masterpieces of the art world.
Children, in general, need unstructured time outdoors, time to be with friends, time to draw, paint build, create, and play.
Children need time to pretend, role-play and daydream. They need time to run, build a snowman, lay on the grass and find faces in the clouds. Time to inhale the fragrance of hyacinth, and watch the bumblebee as she flits from flower to flower.
Children desperately need time to talk with parents, grandparents, and relatives who love them. To gain wisdom, here family lore, and stories of days gone by.
At times they need to be silly and laugh at nothing. Other times they need to cry and cleanse, just because.
Both kids and adults need plenty of “unplugged” time as well. This means limiting phone, tablet, video game, and television time.
So how much is too much when it comes to after-school activities? As a parent, you must use your judgment. As you set up your extra-curricular schedule keep in mind that your child needs some downtime.
Some time to practice the piano, and some time to just be a kid.
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