[CUA Office of Public Affairs]

Choose Activities Carefully, Educator Says

Karate, soccer, drama club, piano lessons – when does a parent know when children are involved in too many activities?

Anastasia Samaras, associate professor and director of teacher education at The Catholic University of America, says children are too often overscheduled.

"Today, children have wonderful opportunities to participate in so many activities, but when they spread themselves too thin, they pay the price in emotional, mental and physical stress," Samaras says. "The result is burnout and poor performance in school."

Keeping children’s days full of busy and lengthy appointments can rob children of the time to daydream, play games for fun or simply relax, she says. Students who are skilled in sports may experience the added pressure of competing for athletic scholarships.

"What happened to sitting on the front porch and looking at the stars or the sunset, or hanging upside down on a swing?" Samaras asks. "Children still need time to just be kids."

Samaras offers these guidelines for parents and children to choose extracurricular activities and still have time for family:


· Examine whether an activity is something a child genuinely wants to do before signing him or her up for it. Observe your child’s body language and demeanor to see if he or she is really enjoying the activity.

· Evaluate whether a particularly time-consuming hobby is worth the time committed to it.

· Make sure your student still has time to read for pleasure and enjoy unstructured time with friends and family.

· Don’t allow children to be pressured by peers, coaches and advisers.

"It’s great when children excel at something and feel good about their achievements," Samaras says. "But parents should help their children find a balance between school, scheduled activities and free time."


For interviews, contact Anastasia Samaras at 202-319-5819.




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Revised: July 1, 1999

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