In recent years, more and more parents have started enrolling their children in enrichment classes as soon as they turn three years of age. Many parents perceive that the younger their children are, the better it would be for their brains to absorb the lessons.
It is not uncommon to see kids below the age of five being involved in a wide repertoire of lessons: music, art, ballet, swimming, and of course, the usual academic subjects. Despite their busy schedules, parents carve out time to chauffeur their little ones to these classes regardless of their locations. They strongly feel that these enrichment classes are beneficial for their child, thus the sacrifice of their time and money is being put to good use.
However, how many classes is considered too much?
Are you able to tell if your children are suffering from overload due to their busy schedules?
How To Tell If Your Child Is Not Coping With Their Enrichment Classes
One of the biggest tell-tale signs is a change in your child’s behaviour. A once happy and easy-going child could become uncooperative and often disgruntled due to stress.
Unfortunately for us, our children do not have the same capabilities to express their emotions like adults do. Sometimes, they do not even realise the cause of their unhappiness, thus they act out.
Another indicator is when children display physical signs of discomfort when they have to attend their enrichment classes. Most children who go through this will express that they are suffering from a stomach ache or a headache just before they need to attend a certain class – symptoms that make it hard for parents to tell if their child is speaking truthfully or not.
What Can We Do To Help Our Children?
While parents often sign their children up for enrichment classes with the perception that it is for the sake of their children’s future, it could be wise to sit down and draw out your child’s schedule on a piece of paper to see how much you have tried to fit into a week.
Remember that children do not have the same mental functions as an adult, and view the schedule from their perspective. What may seem reasonable to us may not be for a child who just wants to unwind after a long day at school. In fact, overscheduling your child can cause a lot more agitation and unnecessary pressure, especially if your child has not asked for those lessons.
It is always important to develop open communication with your child and allow them a safe space to express their feelings. You may not necessarily agree with how they feel, but it does not make them any less real because these emotions are real to them. By speaking to your child about the amount of work he has to accomplish within a week, you might get an insight into how you can better support him.
Your child does not need to attend every enrichment programme available for kids in that age group. Ask your child what his favourite activities are, pick two or three activities at most without overloading their schedule, and stick to it. After all, a child’s love for learning is always developing and we only want to harness that, rather than kill it off too soon by putting him into the rat race so early on.
Remember that kids need downtime too!
Look for holistic programmes like a Chinese playgroup or drama classes
A great way to cut down on excessive classes is to look for programmes that can cover several of your desired skills at once. This reduces the sheer number of hours of lessons your child may end up going for and helps you kill many birds with one stone.
For example, many parents are interested in sending their children to Chinese enrichment programmes to boost their Mandarin. One way of reducing the extra workload is to send your child to a Chinese immersion playgroup, where Mother Tongue is integrated seamlessly into daily activities, allowing them to learn the language organically and in a fun, interactive way. Many parents may be daunted by Chinese playgroups, but in actual fact, they are a fabulous way to get kids to speak their second language naturally and fluently.
Similarly, programmes such as speech and drama classes and kids’ theatre are an excellent way to learn English, hone confidence, develop physical coordination, and teach children to express themselves. The MindChamps Actors Centre Kids is one such programme, providing kids with an environment where everyone is encouraged to be themselves, where there is no judgement on the level of creative noise they make. Without any strict examination curriculum to adhere to, the children can focus on exciting experiential learning instead of worrying about meeting goals on paper.
Ultimately, enrichment classes need not be stopped completely if your child is enjoying the lessons and they are well-spaced out. Finding the right match for your child is also quintessential to encourage their growth and progress.
At any time that you realise your child is not interested, there is always the option of stopping the classes to focus on their emotional well-being and regroup at a later time.
It is never too late to sign up for a class, but it can be too late to cater to our kids’ emotional needs if we miss the opportunity to do so.
Written by JoBeth Williams