Have you ever wondered how many activities is best for your child? I see wonderful parents who want their children to have the best opportunities available to them, and some have told me they are afraid their kids will “fall behind” if they miss out on an activity.
I agree completely that exposing children to enrichment beyond school gives them a big step ahead in life. They might even find a lifelong hobby because you helped ignite their interest in the arts or sport. However, in recent times I have seen that there can be too much of a good thing. I won’t discuss other activities in this post, except to say that I support a well-rounded child and know that piano lessons are one of several activities for most students these days.
Parents, I encourage you to think of piano lessons as 5 activities, not 1 activity. Why? Because your child needs to practice 5 days a week in order to get the full benefits of their weekly lesson. This is very different to an activity such as swimming lessons (unless they are on the elite athlete track), where the child goes to swimming once a week and that’s it.
The benefit of music lessons only starts at the actual weekly lesson. All of those reports we read about how piano lessons make your child smarter, or helps enhance their brain development are slightly misleading. It is the work that is done between lessons that provides these advantages.
So, the answer to “how many activities?” is that it depends on each child. We all have a different tolerance level for these things and it’s important for your child to have the balance that suits him/her. In 17 years of teaching, I can tell you that children who have too many activities on (for their level of tolerance) will consistently tell me they are tired, have trouble focusing, and sometimes develop anxieties about all the other things they have to do. Recently, an 8-year old child told me she wanted to “fall asleep and wake up when it’s next week” because she had so much to do, which was heart breaking for me to hear. I know that parents are scheduling all of these activities out of love for their children, but I am also seeing anxieties in younger and younger children since I began teaching.
I am so happy that I can openly discuss these important parts of a child’s life with the parents in my studio. It is an honour to be part of such a caring community, and I welcome your thoughts about what I have written.