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No time to be a kid

A busy extracurricular life has some positives, though. The Center for Disease Control released statistics in 2000 that showed that drug use and teenage pregnancy rates have steadily decreased since 1976, which some experts attribute to children focusing on being part of a team or organization. The question for some teachers and doctors does not lie in whether or not these activities are positive but more of when they are simply too much.

Guilderland mom and soccer coach Tara Camardo said that she has had children on her team who play more than one sport, and scheduling practices is not always easy because of conflicts.

Camardo said she feels that for her 8-year-old daughter, one sport or activity at a time is what works best.

"Kids need downtime, time to just be able to be free to choose something, or even nothing to do," said Camardo.

As a school counselor, Shartrand said she believes there are many good reasons for finding healthy outlets like sports and music for children. She said that she feels the trend is becoming more balanced and that parent participation is part of the reason.

"You see more and more parents staying for practices and lessons, they are becoming more of a part of the process, which is good in that it makes it more of a family experience. Parents and children have become much savvier at scheduling," said Shartrand.

Shartrand also said she feels part of the success of extracurricular activities is keeping out the stress. She said that when the parents know how to create a schedule that everyone can live with in the family, it keeps harmony and the focus remains on the fun aspect. She said that scheduling allows for prioritizing, which keeps kids in check with schoolwork and other responsibilities.

"My own personal philosophy is that people feel good about themselves when they find something that they are good at and comfortable with. It's great for parents to expose their children to new things, but once you see what direction your child wants to go in, follow their lead. The positive reinforcement will help them build many opportunities for success," said Shartrand.

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