We all want the best for our children. From the moment they are born we want to provide them with enriching sensory experiences, and give them the opprtunity to learn and grow .

As soon as they are old enough to take an interest, there are all kinds of activities that children can take part in now; sports, learning languages, music and dance, creative arts….  of course, we want our children to have access to all of this.

And then they start school…

Now, you need to find a balance between the study that they need to do for school to stay on top of things, and the after school enriching activities that they want to be a part of.

This gets more and more complicated as you have more children. How can you design a programme of activities that suits the skills and passions of each individual child, but doesn’t leave you or the children burned out and leaves room for downtime too?

My children are 2 school years apart, and vastly different in what they like and enjoy. My daughter is musical, and likes to sing and play trumpet, my son was big into martial arts and enjoyed his scouts.

For a period of one year, we had a manic Monday night, involving four different activities (2 for each child) in four separate venues, in three different towns. We had a round trip of about 25 miles to get each person to each thing, and dinner was a burger grabbed from a drive-thru on one of the road trips.  Complete madness!

Both academic commitments and after-school interests are important, and as a parent, you need to help make sure that your child has a good balance between the two. Of course, they will need to relax and unwind as well!

Needless to say, achieving this balance can often be a lot easier said than done, as naturally, some activities end up taking on greater prominence than others. So, with that in mind, read on to discover some useful tips that will help your child achieve a good balance between school work and after-school interests.

Prioritise the activities

Yes, as parents we would love to have the child that speaks several languages fluently, loves to cook, plays an instrument and represents their county in a sport. But is that what your child wants really? 

While I’m all in favour of letting them try a range of different activities, as they get older and the schoolwork starts to become more important, it may be more sensible for each child to focus in on a couple of activities only, which should be the ones that they are really passionate about, not the ones that we think might be good for them.

Thankfully for me, I found that as my two got older and went to secondary school, many of the activities that they enjoyed were provided at school in school time, which has made the prioritisation of it all much better

Teach your children to multitask

There is always going to be that dreaded moment whereby your child has a big test on Monday morning at school yet an important football game or dance show on the Sunday before.

What should you do? Should you tell your child that they are not allowed to attend the game or they cannot participate in the production? Or, do you allow them to prioritise their extra-curricular activities and run the risk of them underperforming in the test?

Well, you don’t have to do either! Firstly, it is all about being prepared. You know this date is coming up, so adjust the study calendar accordingly. Or maybe you can get them to do bits of study while they are travelling between the after-school activities, or while one child is waiting for another to do their activity.

There are plenty of portable study aids you can get nowadays includin audio aids if a child can’t read in the car.

Study together

An increasing number of adults today are enhancing their skills and ‘going back to school’ – so to speak.

You don’t actually need to physically go back to school to do this! Take a look at the University of Exeter Online. You will see that you can take online courses, which will help you to enhance your CV and take your career to the next level.

One of the great ways to get your child to study is to do it with them. Lead by example, as they say.

Set ultimatums

Another approach that can work really well is to set ultimatums, or if you prefer to offer rewards for work completed. If your child wants to go and meet a friend after school, allow them to do so once they have done their homework.

Not only is this going to result in their homework being completed but they are likely to put more energy into it because they want to spend time with their friends. This also helps you to teach your child a valuable lesson that you cannot simply have whatever you want in life – you need to work for it.

Create a calendar

The final tip for any parent that is looking to help their child achieve a sensible balance between coursework and after-school interests is to create a calendar. There is no denying that being organised is incredibly helpful. It will only take a few minutes on a Sunday evening to create a calendar for the week that lies ahead.

Start off by marking all of your child’s practices or classes after school. You should then add anything you are intending to do as a family, for example, you may be planning to go and visit a grandparent that week or you may be going to the cinema.

Once you have added all of this, you will then see the time you have left and you will be able to add in homework periods accordingly. Make sure you are realistic and you choose moments whereby your child is going to be productive.

After all, if your child has guitar lessons between 5.30 and 7.30 pm on a Thursday, it is unlikely they are going to then want to study or do their homework once they get home.

Once the whole family knows when homework times have been set, then you can enforce a rule that nobody can watch TV or play on the computer until everyone in the house has finished their  homework – this needs to apply to the adults too – support your children in this.

Once the children know that the more exciting options are not available to them, then they may get the idea that finishing the homework more quickly leads to more time for play

As you can see, there are a number of different ways you can help to make sure that your child does not experience activity overload and that there is actually a good balance between their academic commitments and the things they enjoy doing after school.

From prioritising their school work effectively to putting together a calendar so that time is managed properly, these suggestion do not require a mammoth effort on your behalf but they should make a significant difference and help your child to achieve the perfect balance.

Please take a look at some of my other posts

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