Parents could be harming their children by pushing them to attend too many after school activities.

A study has revealed the extent to which family life revolves around extracurricular activities and there are worries it could be damaging relationships at home, shares Daily Mail.

Families are feeling the physical and financial strain as nearly nine in ten children take part in organised activities on four to five evenings per week.

Pressure from other parents and schools adds to families feeling like their children need to have a busy schedule, meaning families spend less time together at home.

‘A busy organised activity schedule can put considerable strain on parents’ resources and families’ relationships, as well as potentially harm children’s development and wellbeing,’ said study leader Dr Sharon Wheeler.

Researchers at York St John University interviewed nearly 50 families from 12 primary schools in north-west England about their children’s extracurricular activities.

They found 88 per cent of children had activities on four or five weeknights, with 58 per cent doing more than one in one evening.

Activities included Scouts and Guides, music, football, cricket, rugby, art, drama, chess and swimming.

The study showed that the children’s extracurricular activities dominated family life, particularly when they had two or more children.

The study’s authors blamed pressure from schools and other families for parents pushing their children to do multiple activities and causing ‘unprecedented strain’.

MoM adds

You know what? I really needed to read this today.  I have been feeling nothing but GUILT for not enrolling my nine year old into any sports and have been seriously doubting myself for letting him miss out.

Our 14 year old has footy training twice a week and football on Sunday. Mr 9 only has swimming on a Saturday and after seeing a couple of his mates play footy on the weekend I felt dreadful.

But after reading this, I feel a tiny bit better.  We do put far too much pressure on ourselves that’s for sure!

How many after school activities do your children do?

Share your comments below

  • My kids only did after school activities if they wanted to. I never pushed anything, what’s the point of making them do something they don’t want to do?!


  • My kids don’t do any at the moment, if they chose to I will but the don’t want to so I don’t.


  • I think the busy-ness of children in after school activities is partly because of the ‘outsourcing’ culture. We think we need to send them somewhere, and pay, for the ‘experience’ to be valid with ‘educational’ done by ‘experts’. From music, to sports; craft and sewing, woodwork , camping and outdoor, even board games we think sending them to a ‘class’ is somehow better and more valid than just doing this stuff at home, with extended family members if necessary should we really not have the skills or opportunity to do something. It is maybe also part of the ‘peer-based culture’ where kids themselves ‘want’ (or learn to want) to do things with peers rather than mix into normal society.


  • My daughter does swimming twice a week and spirt 3 times. She needs it though as without it she has heaps of energy. Our weekends are family time though. We sometimes stay home or sometimes go out but that’s when we relax and just do what we want. I think it’s all about balance.


  • Our 7yo was doing swimming, gymnastics and martial arts but given the always increasing costs (now more than $60/week for one child), we have had to cut back on activities that my Son loves because we just could no longer afford them, not to mention not having time to do homework and the rushing around getting dinner and getting them into bed at a reasonable time which is difficult because everything is 45 mins drive each way (no facilities down our end of lake macquarie) which means that it is over 2.5 hours of time taken up just for a 1 hour activity. It was making evenings very stressful.


  • Once my son started High School/Year 7, age 12, we cut out every after school activity except football until we saw how he settled into school. We felt it important that we manage his time and reduce his stresses in what was a big and new year for him. We have stayed with that and only now in Year 12 has he added gym sessions to his weekly fitness regime, plus manageable part-time work. I have many friends whose kids are so organised and actively involved in something every night of the week, I feel for their children as they progress through high school. I’m not seeing kids loving what they’re doing. I’m seeing kids who are stressed by school because they are so overscheduled.


  • My oldest daughter is a keen swimmer. She going to practice 5 nights a week. We have suggested cutting back but she loves it and wouldn’t be happy if we cut it back. Her desire is to go to the Olympics. I think it depends on the child and family.


  • I think there is definitely a danger of going too over the top. I personally enjoy the time that I’m able to spend with my kids after school and think that valuable family time is never wasted.


  • Each to their own but for me a couple of activities are enough. Families need time out too.


  • I’ve always said the constant need for entertaining our kids isn’t good for them. School and homework are tiring enough without the need for a million different activities. Let them be kids.


  • One of my daughters does only do music, the others don’t do anything at the moment ! They prefer to hang out with friends. In the weekend we take them out on Saturday and Sunday (which might be an activity), but that’s for fun.


  • My kids do bowling once a week and only because they want to. I feel sorry for kids that have to do hours of after-school activities, where is the time to play and be kids?


  • My girls do 6 hours of dancing per week and a swimming lesson. They do get a bit tired later in the week but they love it and I will allow them to continue doing these activities as long as they are coping.


  • My daughter asked to play netball when she was eight and after three seasons she didn’t want to continue. We followed her lead when it came to extra curricular activities.


  • My daughter just music. When she was in primary school she used to have also one hour of swimming lessons every week. But that’s it.


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