Tuesday, September 28th, 2010

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy!

girl sitting aloneTen-year-old Shilpa comes home from school at 3.00 pm in the afternoon. She eats in a hurry almost every day, because she has extra-curricular classes to attend. Twice a week she goes for painting classes, once a week for piano lessons and spends a good part of the weekends on taek-won-do, horse riding and ABACUS sessions. She is not alone; her tribe is growing with every passing day with the joining of children, who have to hone several skills so that they become multi-faceted personalities.
No denying the fact, that extra-curricular activities provide a welcome reprieve from the monotony of studies. So much so that it is no longer extra-curricular, rather co-exists with curriculum and is now called co-curricular. Yet, the essential question remains, how much of it is too much. My Health Guardian talks to people who matter to find out their view points on the subject…….
“For eight-year-old Krasanya, joining Shaimak Dawar’s dance classes has done a world of good and has helped her open up. She is no longer her earlier timid self and has become more confident and assertive,” beams the proud mother. Moreover, come-what-may, she is not going to skip her classes and looks forward to those two days of the week, when she will don the dancing shoes. Ranjana, proud mother of ten-year-old Khushei echoes the same sentiment. Says she, “Khushei goes for horse riding two days a week and she is excited about it. The night before her horse riding class, she soaks fistfuls of Bengal grams which she carries with jaggery for the horse.”
So far so good….. these activities seem to be doing a world of good to these children. Noted clinical psychologist Dr Jayanti Dutta points out, “An activity that interests the child should always be encouraged to pursue. These activities help children drain stress, which is a lot for kids these days. Moreover, when the child receives adulation in whatever he is doing it boosts his self confidence.”
Children tend to get bored easily and these activities help dispel boredom. There are several choices before a child–language club, the debating team, chess club, pottery, photography, skating, basketball, cricket, volleyball, hockey, drama, choir, music, jazz band, and many more… These activities allow children to explore their creative interests with like-minded people and help forge bonds with real people rather than chatting with a stranger on the internet.
How much is too much
“This depends on the volition of the child and the budget and time management skills of the parents,” says Vera Garg, Lead Teacher, Social Studies at American Embassy School, New Delhi. She firmly believes that co-curricular activities provide a meaningful outlet to the energies of the child. “The child should be allowed to take up as many activities as he is interested in,” asserts Garg. This gives an opportunity to the child to figure out what he likes the most, which he can pursue on long-term basis. Hence, don’t be surprised if your child takes up few interests and leaves it mid-way. This is more of a norm rather an aberration. However, under no circumstance the child should be pushed in an activity only because his peers are doing it. Co-curricular activities also wean children away from the mindless watching of the TV and trawling on the internet. The activities can be outdoors or indoor, but the punch line is that it shouldn’t seem like a chore. The moment it does,  there is no need to pursue it because then it begins to defeat the purpose. “The pressure to perform in co-curricular activities is not healthy for the psyche of young minds,” sums Dr Dutta.

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Category: Good Parenting
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