University of Illinois Extension

Give Careful Thought to Decisions about Extra-Curricular Activities

Debbie McClellan, Family Life Educator

The start of a new school year often means the start of extra-curricular activities. Researchers note that kids who participate in these activities are more likely to have better grades, higher standardized test scores, higher self-concepts and better school attendance.

But, there can be a downside. When youth are involved in too many activities, the result can be hectic schedules and stress. Before enrolling your grandchild in an extra-curricular activity, ask yourself:

  • Would my grandchild enjoy this activity?
  • How will he benefit socially, emotionally and physically?
  • Is this a quality activity with age-appropriate instruction?
  • What is the instructor-to-child ratio?
  • What is the attitude of the leader or coach? What are the coach's views about practices, participation, and competition? Will the child still get to participate if practices are missed?
  • Would this activity still allow for quality family time?

You can answer some of these questions by talking with parents whose children have participated in this activity. You and your grandchild might also observe the activity while it is in session. Afterwards, compare notes. Involve your grandchild in the decision-making. Decide together how much activity is "enough" and what is "too much." Your grandchild will feel respected when his thoughts and ideas are listened to and taken seriously. He will also be more likely to follow through if he has helped create plans and solutions.