Sometimes, modern parents expect too much from their child and try to make him a wunderkind, sending to various courses, sports and hobby groups. Just imagine a week schedule as follows: Monday - dances and English course, Tuesday -music school, Wednesday - styling or engineering agency, Thursday - again English, dances or wrestling, Friday - sports. Apart from all this, the child also should go to school, learn various school subjects and make homework after. Not every adult can survive such schedule, but for many children it becomes a norm.

Specialists note that such approach has its pros and cons, but parents must remember two principle rules: the child must like what he does, and these additional activities must not exhaust him. The approach to a week schedule formation is individual for every pupil.

Thus, ForUm has studied in details how parents should decide on after-school activities to prevent the overwork.


Selecting after-school activities for a child, it is necessary to consider all pros and cons, because both physical and psychological health depends on workload you chose. Pediatrician Anna Horban says that "analyzing civilized societies, we can see that fast development and high learning loads force more and more people to seek help of psychologists. Education is a great thing, but stress caused by overwork creates a bunch of psychological problems".

As for physical health, the Healthcare Ministry says there is no separate statistics on lethal cases among children due to overwork. Thus, it is quite difficult to estimate the risks. In this respect, the pediatrician says that before the school year parents should bring their child for medical examination to learn about his health condition and loads he can bear.

Psychologist's office

In general, director of the International humanitarian center "Rozrada", psychologist Valentyna Bondarovska says that overwork causes over-fatigue, nervousness and poor sleep. "Moreover, it seems that the child loses control over his life. He has no time to decide on what he really wants to do and start realizing his own projects. The child is under continuous control of these endless activities, kaleidoscope of thoughts, movements and requirements. It can be unbearable for him. Besides, it impoverishes his inner world and creates poor conditions for development," the specialists says.

In her opinion, a child should follow maximum two intellectual activities, like English and art, for example, and some sport - running, swimming, etc. "Learning several languages two or three times per day is an overwork. In the result, the child will know nothing and will be exhausted both psychically and psychologically. All extra-school activities must meet his interests and physical capacities. Don't think that children have inexhaustible resources. Parents should learn to know and feel their child," Bondarovska says. 

Psychologist Valentyna Yefimova adds that selecting after-school activities, parents should consider child's right for alternative. "If the child had seven classes at school and then has to make homework, additional two hours of English course are too much. Thus, it is better to choose a day-off, Saturday for example, for extra class, but not too long. If the child attends a sport school and does a lot of physical training, some intellectual activity is recommended as a distraction. It is important that the child does not do the same activity for a long period of time. Remember that change of activity is the best recreation,"  the psychologist says.

At the same time she notes that there is a false belief that different activities are tiring. "For some reason adults believe that doing different activities children get tired faster. It is not true. Children must have different activities, because this variety enables them to recover after previous classes. Sitting at the desk and doing repetitive work for hours is very tiring for the body and mind. Thus, extra activities are rather necessary," the expert sums up.

Right for self-independence

Though experts have different opinions on different things, they all agree on one thing - the child should attend extra activities willingly, and not because his parents want him to become Malevich, Mozart or Einstein. At the same time, it does not mean that parents should abstract away. Just remember that "to force" and "to propose" to attend music or dancing classes are two different things.

"Parents should propose several activities and the child can chose those he likes," Valentyna Yefimova says. According to her, proposing this or that activity, parents should take into account child's mentality and behavior. "For example, if a child is very active, it is better to propose quiet activities, like knitting, stitching, etc., for the child to calm down and relax. If a child is unsociable and shy, a team sport, like volleyball, football, etc., will do just fine," the specialist recommends.

It often happens that because of being told where to go and what to do children lose interest in activities. "Parents bring their children to us and say they do not take interest in any activities. How can they, if they have never done something they, not their parents, like? Our children are deprived of initiative, and adults foolishly believe they know better. As a result, children grow passive or remonstrative," Bondarovska says.

As an example she cited a case from her practice. "One day a seventh-grade girl came home and told her mother she did not want to live by her rules any more and intended to leave home. The mother spend a bunch of money and efforts bringing the daughter from one specialist to another. It took her years to settle the situation. And all these problems could have been avoided if the mother had not pressed on her child too much. Children rebel, lose patience or become depressed," the expert says.

Sometime children may protest even against their own desires. "For example, a child likes an activity he does, but if parents repeatedly remind him to do it, he would stop liking it just out of obstinacy," Yefimova adds.

Board of recommendations

It is quite easy to notice that the child is disturbed by something or suffers overwork. "If the child moves a lot in his sleep and wakes up upside down, it means he has a poor sleep, which in turn is the first sign of nervous overload," Valentyna Yefimova says. Poor appetite is the second sign. "It means that the child is depressed, and his activities do not make him happy," the psychologist says. The third factor includes irritability and easy fatigability.

According to Valentyna Bondarovska, a child needs at least two hours a day to be left alone when he can decide on what to do: to read, to draw or construct. And here parents should just confirm in his choice, and if something goes wrong, just give him a possibility to overcome obstacles on his own and to be happy with it.

Tetyana Matsur


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