Have you figured out the perfect balance of school and after school activities for your kids? I am still trying to get used to a new schedule with driving to two schools and work. I am in the car a lot more since one daughter is in elementary school and the other in middle school this year. I can't complain though my brother and sister-in-law have four kids at four different schools.
I work part-time and find during the week my schedule consists of making breakfast, packing school lunches, driving to school, picking up from school, signing school agendas, helping with homework, cooking dinner, cleaning the house and washing clothes plus other miscellaneous things.
Now add in sports activities, tutoring or lessons for dance or musical instruments. It can be a lot not only for you, but for your child. I think it's important to have a well-rounded child, but you want to make sure you aren't doing too many activities that you burn your child out. I know kids love being busy, but too busy is not good for anyone.
My husband and I usually let our girls pick two activities they want to do. These activities are usually for a few months or a season. Our girls like soccer, softball, golf, swimming, tennis, piano and guitar. In the past our girls have played on the same teams, since they are so close in age. Since they are getting older now, they don't want to do the same activities, which means more practices, games, meets and recitals to attend.
Even two activities for my older daughter, who just started middle school is a little challenging at times because of homework. In our house, school comes before playing sports. So if my daughter has a lot of homework and doesn't think she can go to practice and finish homework, we have her skip practice and do homework.
It is hard sometimes to find that balance of school, homework and after school activities. I think a lot has to do with the child and the activity itself and how much time is spent practicing and on games.
From personal experience with my family, I have found several really good reasons for why it's important for kids to be involved in sports or some kind of activity besides school. If they are involved in activities, they can't be playing their electronics, which kids today are on all the time. Another good reason is, if they are doing a sport they are getting exercise. One of the biggest reasons is it gives your child something to do, so they aren't bored and getting into trouble.
An added bonus is that some activities can lead to scholarships for college. If a child becomes good enough at what they love doing, they may be offered a scholarship. I am hoping my two girls will get scholarships. Scholarships can really help out when you get the tuition bill for college.
Studies have been done to document the benefits of having kids involved in activities. According to a study by the US Department of Education in 2005, they found high school athletes are more like to attend college and get degrees than non-athletes. Other studies show that playing sports can positively affect young people with their self-esteem, goal setting and leadership. A study in 2004, with the Women's Sports Foundation compared non-athlete peers to female high school athletes and found the athletes to be less likely to be sexually active, to use drugs and to suffer from depression.
I am not sure if there really is a "perfect" balance to school and activities, but at least we can find what works and what doesn't work. Somewhere in between all of this is a balance that hopefully works for you and your child.