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BLIND SPOT: Extra-curricular structure and stress

You thought your work is stressful. Try being an elementary pupil. Let’s run it down. There are the scouting activities – camps, trainings, talent shows, parade rehearsals. Wait a minute, talent shows? We’ll get to that later. Back in the days, there were just boys and girls, now, they got a scout for every children’s age group for both genders. They had Nutrition Month last month. This month, they have Buwan ng Wikang Pambansa with dress-up, the Filipino oration, and kids bringing rice cakes to school. Don’t you notice that all schools are holding their Intramurals this month? It comes with a rationale. The succeeding months will each be a time for the sports meets on ascending level. So, they really have to have it on August; and this isn’t just a one-day, one event affair. Is the child inclined into music? Does he play percussion? So, he or she is probably a member of the school’s drum, xylophone, lyre corps. Or maybe, the child is a majorette. They’re probably having regular afternoon rehearsals for September 8 and the following week. Does the child dance? He or she could be recruited to the Voyadores Street Dance. I hear coordinators rent barangay covered courts for rehearsals which could last until late nights. If you’re missing it. Membership in any of these come with a set of uniform, equipment or perhaps some props. There’s more. Right smack about in the middle of the month is the first quarter periodical examinations. Before these dates, they probably have to submit a project for each learning area. (Tapos, gusto mong magbalik sa pagkaaki? Sa panahon na simple ang buhay? Sigurado ka?) Maybe it does come with some profits. “By participating in activities outside of the classroom, children have the opportunity to discover their interests beyond the textbook — perhaps even find their passion or their life’s calling.” “When children take on additional extracurricular activities outside of the normal school day, they’re also learning about time management and prioritizing work.” “When children are on a sports team, or a member of a club where they have responsibilities, or a particular instrument and concert dates, they learn about being committed to a project and being responsible to peers rather than just their teachers.” Some children struggle “with self-esteem, often these activities will help build them up, and they’ll discover that there’s something they’re good at outside of the classroom.” ( All these activities do create some excitement among children. It is quite commendable that children try to manage time for academic work and rehearsals. I once overheard some students planning about a rehearsal on a particular place which I’m sure they picked in consideration for its size, convenience, and cost-efficiency (since they wouldn’t have to pay any entrance fee). I see some attitude of responsibility sprouting up fresh from the roots. It would be indeed a disaster to confine a child who isn’t really book-smart to paper and pencil activities. Along with the streaks of sunlight at the breaking of dawn, the ripening of fruits in full season and the sweet sound of birds broken through by the blowing breeze, is the beauty of a child feeling fulfillment in his own accomplishments. Flipping the coin, “opting for an activity, which requires a lot of energy and hours, may create troubles” which “may also affect grade at school”. “Consciously or unconsciously, there is a denial of the academic priorities to live the passion”. Sometimes, an unwanted activity can be extremely frustrating. (Have you ever heard of a child coerced by adults to join a “little miss pageant”?) “A strict schedule kills the free time which may diminish their self-discovering attitude and carefree imagination. Unknowingly this structured and planned life may make children burdened at a young age with frustration and workload. Over-schedule or back to back activities can increase the stress level at very young age.” ( Considering the schedule mentioned on the introduction )which may I reiterate is very real and not hypothetical), would not the child have difficulty on projects and preparations for exams when at the same time he or she is being called for in meetings on campings, rehearsals, or contests? Now, we are faced with the danger of placing priority on that which does not need it. Adults often discount the dangerously lasting effects of forcing a child to involve in an activity that he or she does not find interesting. As a matter of real life situation, I have known of children who are active participants of four among the extra-curricular activities above. How does the child even handle that? Whoever even gave him or her that idea, in the first place? Why do we do what we do in the first place? Is it in the pursuit of a noble ideal or the satisfaction of authoritative documents “Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth” Psalm 127:4

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