Pediatrician
Dr. Shapiro completed his undergraduate education at UC San Diego, earning a B.S. in Biochemistry and Cell Biology, and a B.A. in Political Science. He furthered his education at UCLA where he earned a Masters Degree in Public…
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Are You Overloading Your Kids With Activities?
Posted in Parenting Big K... by Dr. Jeremy F. Shapiro on Oct 03, 2013
Now that most students have been back in school for a few weeks, I’d like to think both children and their parents are starting to find their groove, as far as, finding a balance between the academics and the many extracurricular activities that are out there this time of year. Because before you know it, 2014 will be upon us and these next 3 months will seem like a blur.

And because schedules can be so full, I’ve been having a discussion with many of my patients…well, really the parents of my patients…over the past few weeks or so; hoping to explain things as I see them from both the perspective of being a physician, as well as, being the parent of a 7th, 4th, and 1st grader.

Now depending on the age and grade level of your child(ren), the academic studies will vary. I’ve seen the amount of homework for a 7th grader range from an hour up to 3-4 hours per night. Throw in a day where your child has 3 exams and all of a sudden you start recalling those days you stayed up til midnight… in high school or college…to finish a paper or prepare for a final exam. Add in soccer practice 2, even 3 times per week and daily piano practice for an hour and you can see the available hours in a day begin to dwindle. Wait, let’s not forget Girl Scouts/Boy Scouts and even religious school studies for some and those free weekday hours become nearly nonexistent.

Now there is some thought that the greater number of activities, the better organized a student will be and stronger academic results will follow. And I do agree with this to some degree but more so with those students in high school and beyond.

But during middle school, and certainly the grade school years, too many scheduled activities can really overwhelm a great proportion of children. And while we want our children to learn how to play an instrument (although my children have declined repeatedly despite my pleas), play 1-2 sports at a time, and also attend religious school 1-2 times per week, it is the role of the parent(s) to make sure some downtime is scheduled as well (ironic isn’t it?...to schedule downtime.) Granted, not every day of the week will allow for it, so that’s why it’s the responsibility of the parent to find that time to allow the child to just relax for a bit…and do what he/she wants to do.

As far as recommendations of what to do or schedule during downtime, sorry, none to give here…that’s for your child to decide.

- Dr. Jeremy

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