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No time to be a kid

hose ubiquitous soccer mom stickers on the minivans, the ones that are essentially saying, Get out of my way, we must make it to practice on time, may not do justice to the schedules of today's busy families. A number of parents are no longer just soccer moms and dads, but more like multi-sport, multi-club, multi-lesson parents.

The number of sport and club opportunities for kids these days has even shifted the focus off academics for some. It's a phenomenon that one educator fresh out of college said she was not up to speed with.

For Elizabeth Rocco, a recent college graduate who substitute teaches in the Capital District, it was a wake-up call when a second-grade student told her she simply had no time for her homework the night before because she had practice until late. The student then said she would most likely not have time for homework that night, either, because she had some sort of lesson. Rocco said her thought was, "Is this now acceptable?"

"For many children, it seems as though schoolwork is not a priority," said Rocco. "As a child, I was always taught schoolwork first -- then the extras. I thought that was a basic principle in parenting."

Dr. Alvin Rosenfeld, a graduate of Cornell, Harvard and Stanford, who lives in New York City, is the author of the book "The Overscheduled Child: Avoiding the Hyper-Parenting Trap." He uses the term "hyper-parenting" to describe parents micro-managing their children. He writes that parents, who may have the best of intentions, have a fear of their children not living up to their expectations. Those parents try to manage a child's social life by overbooking activities, leaving little free time for just being a child. In his book, Rosenfeld writes that this type of parenting leads to stress for everyone. He also writes that while we as a culture tell parents the best thing they can do is to sit and have a family dinner at night, it is virtually impossible when you have multiple children involved in multiple activities.

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