Busy kids not too happy about it

Local | Michelle Li Jul 17, 2017
An overwhelming 83 percent of parents have signed up their children for extra- curricular courses with half taking on three to six activities, a survey has found.

However, one-third of the children do not appreciate such courses, it showed.

Olympian City mall commissioned a survey of 423 families with children aged four to eight. It found that 34.1 percent of those involved in extracurricular activities took one to two courses, 28.6 percent three or four, and 22.6 percent five or six.

Another 14.7 percent signed up for seven to 10 activities. However, 34.3 percent of the children said they did not enjoy taking part in courses.

"By having extracurricular courses, they are getting new openings to new things, which can be worth it especially when they're young," said Christopher Yu Wing-fai, director of the Hong Kong Institute of Family Education.

"Yet nowadays, parents seem to be forcing their children to do too much."

Yu said the sheer amount of activities can be stressful and he advised parents to communicate with their children instead of forcing them to take part.

"If the child does not want to participate, you should ask for the precise reason. Then they will tell you why - perhaps they think it is useless, perhaps they have no interest in it - and most importantly they will suggest some alternatives that they would rather be doing," Yu said. "Communication goes a long way."

The survey also asked the children about their aspirations.

A fifth would like to become celebrities, 13.4 percent to found their own businesses, 10 percent would like technology or computer-related jobs and a similar number wanted to join the disciplined services. The most popular reason for their choice was money: 36.9 percent "to earn more money" and 30.8 percent "to pursue their interests."

More than a third of parents wanted their children to decide for themselves, 12.1 percent would like to see their child work in the medical field and 10.3 percent in technology or computer- related jobs.

"The concept of money is relatively obscure to children - when they listen to their parents complain about the lack of it, the need to earn money becomes the priority," Yu said.

Several students, however, expressed approval of their seemingly numerous activities. "I can make friends and discover new hobbies. Otherwise, I will be bored at home, doing nothing," said one.

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June 2018