Your five-year-old is full of energy and enthusiasm. As their parent, you want to make sure that this energy and enthusiasm is channelized for their benefit. On the one hand, you do not want them to be so busy with different activities that they have no time for themselves. On the other hand, you know that having a well-rounded personality is vital for their growth as a person.
The key is to schedule activities that balance fun and learning. And the key is also to make sure that you do not over do the scheduling.
While there can be no clear guidelines for a number of activities your child can handle, you can go by your instinct and some of these pointers:
- Activities right for their age: A five to six-year-old is not ready for competitive sports as yet. If they show interest in sports, then make sure they join a beginner’s batch. Winning and losing can come later. Music, art etc are ideal for them, if they show the inclination for it. Even if you feel they have an aptitude for say drawing or dance, do not sign them on if they are reluctant to go for it. Your child will resent the activity and may not put in their 100%. It is better to wait another year, work on the activity at home and talk to them again about joining a class.
- Motivation level of your child: How interested your child is in the activity will determine his inclination to continue with it. Do not confuse your needs with your child’s needs. If your child has the requisite motivation and the skill for the activity they will enjoy and benefit from it. Do not pressurize them to succeed. Rather focus on learning.
- Peer pressure on your child: Make sure your child is signing up for the activity because they have the desire and the aptitude not because they are anxious that their friends are doing it. While it is okay for them to participate in activities with their friends, make sure they grow through the experience as well.
- Prioritize the activities: Your child’s teacher feels they need to focus more on academics to catch up with the class. In this case, it might be a good idea to drop an activity to garner some free time when they can do their homework. This could also be the first step towards them learning time management.
- Be firm with new requests: Your child is at an age where it is easy for them to be carried away by a slew of activities. You will have to make sure they are not overburdened by these activities. Ask them to be prepared to drop an old activity if they want to join a new one. Also joining a new activity every other week and dropping an old one, does not help them.
- Schedule time to do nothing: Sometimes it is okay to blow a class to spend some time together. Do not worry that your child will get into the habit of missing classes. If they are motivated enough, they will not use an excuse to miss the activity. Also, schedule family time together.
Scheduling helps your child achieve their full potential. But over-scheduling activities can make it tough for them. Find the right balance that helps them blossom into confident, successful adults.