When my kids were growing up my wife and I were always under pressure to follow the other school parents to be “soccer mom” or “soccer dad”. Whenever we were around with other parents we constantly heard stories of how busy they were busing their children around for sports.
In addition to that the elementary schools at my town always encourage the students to join school music band or choir singing. These activities continue to be important activities as the students move to middle school and high school. Unfortunately, I have to say all these activities are a waste of time. Before you jump up and down disagreeing my statement I want to lay out several reasons as they will not have any impact on your children future.
My assessment is based on my observation, experience as well as what I read over the years. Obviously not all activities are useless. Some universities and colleges, particularly certain ivy league schools do look at some of these activities as prerequisites for admission. Usually this applies to only certain exceptional students.
Time and Money Waste
A lot of these activities are not cheap. There is always a fee or monthly expense. Besides that you need to think about the gas you will need to drive them around. The most important waste of all is time. Each activity can last up to 2 hours and we all know time is money. Take soccer practice as an example. To be good at soccer, a 8th grader will need to attend at least 2 soccer practices a week and each can go for 2 hours. During any tournament or game, it could be 2 to 4 hours. And the parents will need to sacrifice by taking time off just to drive them around. Once the children past high-school, none of the experience gained will be useful because when they are in college not one professor will care about their soccer games. When they start looking for a job, not one employer would ask about these activities.
Extra Activities mean Less Important Activities
Believe it or not, in order to excel in today’s world you need to be really good in one field. Using computer field as an example, you need to know a lot of this subject. Not only you need to learn the programming language of today, you need to be also well versed with current technology. Without these knowledge, sitting in front of a hiring manager would be very challenging. I can tell you that the hiring manager would not ask about the soccer game you won when you were in 8th grade. Attending to these extracurricular activity means you have less time to learn anything else.
Children has Finite Energy
Children may have a lot of energy during a soccer practice or game over the weekend but they are likely collapse because lack of sleep or too tired to do anything else right immediately after the game. Most children around the teenage age requires a lot of energy as part of growing up. Putting them in sport activities may starve their bodies of required nutrients for their bodies to grow properly. As an example, one of our family friends has a daughter who runs in the track and very active in soccer. However, she is extremely thin and small for her age when she is compared to her peers.
Teamwork is Overrated
One of the biggest opponent of these activities are it instill teamwork values in them. Unfortunately, this term is overrated. Teamwork is not something you can learn by joining just a sport game. Teamwork is something you learn by being around a group of people aiming for the same objectives. In other words, you learn it during school projects, participating in a club or being a spectator in a game. I learned that teamwork is importing when I started working full-time. However, it is not often being used because everyone of us have assigned role in an organization. So often than not, the work is so segregated that the moniker “teamwork” is only used on the piece of paper but rarely practiced.
Education is More Important
What happens if the children spend all their waking hours participating in these activities but rarely allow them time to study. The end result is their grade may suffer. They may show up on trophy cups or school papers but when they continue to fail in all their classes, they may not be able to attend any higher education to pursue their dreams. My son’s girlfriend is an exceptional case. She is really good in her soccer and track. Additionally, she continues to do well at school. However, she rarely has any free time to do anything else.
My wife and I never pushed our 3 grown children to join any activities. And they turn up fine. My son will be graduating from Rutgers University with good grades and he will be working as an intern with Amazon AWS in the summer. That was the ultimate litmus test that I seeked for that confirmed my assessment is correct.
Extracurricular activities may help build characters but in a lot of times behavior starts at home through family values. Personally I believe children should be allowed to explore on their free time. Some may find interests in building cars while some may enjoy helping local community by volunteering. Children should not be defined how successful they are in scoring goals until they are too exhausted to do anything else.