The word burnout brings to mind a tired professional, dragging his feet to work, and trying to muster energy to do his job. It is not difficult to imagine that working professional to be our own child, resisting to do his homework and even wanting to skip school altogether.
According to Schaufeli, Leiter, and Maslach in their paper "Burnout: 35 years of research and practice”, the concept of job burnout came to people’s consciousness in the 1970s. Burnout in general soon came to be considered “as an erosion of a positive psychological state.” It is a common experience among people of different ages, nationalities, and professions.
With the increasing demand for academic excellence in order to be globally competitive, our young children tend to suffer from school burnout. School performance becomes a contest, and learning ceases to be fun.
Traditional private schools, for one, are notorious for giving a lot of homework everyday. High performing students get invited to special classes while most students get enrolled in extra-curricular activities. All these goings-on leave kids little time to rest, resulting in school-related stress.
How do we protect our children from school burnout? Here are 5 things we can do:.
1. Let them play. It is a sad reality that children do not get to be children anymore these days. Their life becomes a kiddie version of an adult’s routine: wake up, go to school, do homework, sleep, and do it all again tomorrow. There is hardly time for them to play.
We don’t need research studies to tell us that play is an important part of childhood. Watch any child absorbed in her play, and you will see a mind at work but rested.
Patricia Villa, graphic designer at Fancy Girl Designs, recognizes the value of play even during a school day. She stresses the importance of real playtime over gadget time, so she lets her 9-year-old play with a friend outdoors as soon as he arrives home from school.
2. Don’t overschedule them. There’s no doubt that parents want the best for their kids. Many, however, mistakenly believe that they are doing right by their children by enrolling them in afterschool activities.
Many parents believe that enrolling in enrichment classes will help their kids get good grades or give them an edge over their classmates.The reality, however, is that school days are long, traffic is horrible, and homework takes a lot of time to do. Enrolling a child in even just one extra class will add to her burden.
The mom behind the popular blog My Mom Friday, Michelle Lim, is adamant about not enrolling her two children in extra-curricular activities. Like Patricia, she also values playtime even on weekdays and makes sure that her children have time for free play. With her rule about no extra activities, her children are able to pursue hobbies and have play dates with friends.