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How many activities should kids be involved in?

Balance is a key factor in deciding how many activities kids should be involved in.

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A family skates outside in Alexandria.
File Photo

With the bevy of activities that kids can partake in, there’s always the question of how many is too many?

“We try to promote activities as much as we can. It gets kids connected to our school,” Alexandria High School Activities Director Ben Kvidt said. “It gets them working towards a common goal. So we're big advocates of that and proponents of that, and we try to support our kids on an individual level too, because we know that not everyone wants to be in an activity so we can still try to support them there too.”

The answer also depends on balance – as in balancing time equally between school, extracurricular activities, church and whatever else you’d like to throw in there.

“I think any way that you can get connected to a group strengthens your relationship with that group. So whether that's your church or your school, or maybe the Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts, any connections that you have, it's going to be beneficial,” Kvidt said. “It gives them opportunities to learn how to balance that because it is harder for some students than it is for some other students. What activities do is it forces you to manage your time wisely. That's an important life skill for kids. So I think that is the benefit of having activities in high schools.”

Managing time and being organized is something that teachers and coaches, as well as parents, can help a student with. In other words, teachers and coaches could be considered resources for the students.

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“I think our coaches helped mentor them through that quite a bit because, you know, coaches are always the ones that are at practice with the kids,” Kvidt said. “Kids come and say, ‘Hey, I got a test tomorrow, or can I miss practice for this or whatever.’ The coaches help point out how they should be managing their time, so that they can still make everything work. So I would say as far as resources, our teachers and our coaches are probably our biggest, along with the parents. Parents have played a critical part in helping their students learn too.”

Most students likely try different things and explore more activities for the first time in middle school. Being in multiple activities is something that Kvidt said has been a huge emphasis at Discovery Middle School.

“We want to introduce them to multiple different activities that they could try, kind of a low-pressure situation, at the middle school,” Kvidt said. “Yes, we want to win, but that's not the ultimate goal. We want the kids to go and have a positive experience. So our staff does really try to push kids into different things that they haven't done. I have a daughter who's at the middle school right now. And she went out for tennis this year, for the first time. …She said, ‘I want to try something new.’ Middle school is a perfect spot for that.”

The activities director at Discovery Middle School is Aldon Struchen.

Struchen is also the head coach of the wrestling team at the high school. He says that the middle school level is the perfect time and opportunity for students to start some new activities.

“Especially at the middle school level it's trying new things, and putting yourself out there,” he said. “You don't need to commit to one sport as a kindergartener and that's the only thing that you do. So we're always encouraging kids in elementary and middle school levels to try something new and see what's out there.”

While the coaches and staff encourage kids to try new activities while they’re in middle school, they say it’s never too late to start a new activity in school.

“Mason Teaser is a perfect example of that. He never came out for wrestling until his freshman year and look at all the success he’s had,” Struchen said. “There’s a lot that’s out there for kids.”

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Teaser is the captain of the Alexandria wrestling team and is the lone senior on the team.

To best manage their time and find balance, Struchen said it’s important for students to not overwork themselves.

“Each sport has a lot of commitment, whether that's during the season or offseason. For these kids to be training and staying on top of their schoolwork, it's different for everybody,” Struchen said. “So you’ve got to be careful that you're not burning yourself out or stretching yourself too thin with everything that you put on your plate. I think kids just need to find that balance. I don't know if it's what the happy medium is, but I think it's going to differ for everyone. Being in two to three activities – give it a try and see what you can handle.”

Kvidt said that no matter what grade students are in, they try to encourage them to do many different activities so long as they can manage their time well.

“Once we start getting into the high school, we still encourage kids to try multiple activities,” Kvidt said. “The difference is once you're in athletics, once you've tried it, you've kind of figured out which ones you want to do by high school.”

Kvidt added that the high school has a club fair every year.

“That's another opportunity for kids to get involved,” he said. “Maybe not so much in an actual sport or activity, but different clubs that are based off of their interests with other students that have similar interests at the school.”

Sam Stuve covers a variety of sports in the Douglas County area. He also is assigned to do some news stories as well.
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