Wednesday, June 04, 2014
Challenge -- it's a good thing
Long time Gifted Exchange readers know I write about time management for lots of places. As I've looked at the data and research, I've been fascinated to see that, for all adults claim to be overworked, most people aren't. The average number of hours worked per year has fallen by about 200 hours since 1950 (for Americans). Some of sociologist John Robinson's studies, looking at "extreme" work weeks, have found that people claiming 75-hour workweeks are often overestimating by 25 hours or so. So I'm always a bit skeptical of stories about how American school children are overworked, or under too much pressure, too. Most children don't have that much homework, and most aren't in that many activities either. Looking back on much of my own school career, I know I could have worked much harder than I did, and I would have been a lot happier if I'd had to. So I enjoyed reading Jay Mathews column on how "Kids Can Learn the Rewards of Pressure." After writing about the usual worry of extra-curriculars crowding out academics, Mathews heard from a number of parents pointing out that, guess what? Kids can handle a lot. Indeed, kids who learn the time management skills and discipline required to balance school work with extra-curricular activities sometimes do better in school. There's less time to get in trouble, and they have to be more organized. As with adults, I think it's important to look at total numbers. A week has 168 hours. If children are in school or on the bus around 35 hours per week, and have 10 hours of homework per week (more than most), and sleep 10 hours per night (which my kids barely do!) that leaves 53 hours for other things. That's enough time to devote a few hours to a handful of activities as well. And since activities can sometimes stretch the brain and challenge kids in ways that school doesn't, it's nice to have this mix. What activities do your kids devote time to? Does it help or hurt their school work?