Thornton says that while lessons and classes help to build a child's confidence and social skills, it's important that kids participate because they enjoy it. Kids shouldn't equate extracurricular activities with parental approval. "If they understand mom and dad really want them in all of these activities, they get the message it's about being in the activity, not being themselves," she said.
While structured activities can be beneficial for kids, age should determine the amount of time a child should be engaged in a class or sport. Kids from 1 to 5 years old only have the attention span for 30 minutes of activity at a time. Kids ages 5 to 8 are better suited for participating in competitive sports or games, and they may be able to handle several lessons or activities in a week. A regular extracurricular activity is recommended for kids 8 and older so they learn discipline and teamwork.
While the pressure to excel could lead parents to schedule and overwhelm their kids, parenting experts and pediatricians point out organized sports, classes and activities have clear benefits. Children socialize, learn teamwork, sportsmanship, get exercise and have fun.