How Many Activities for a 6 Year Old?

Updated on September 18, 2012
J.M. asks from Melrose, MA
21 answers

I think 2 a week is enough (i.e. soccer, swimming, gymnastics, dance) but some parents do more. What do you guys feel comfortable with? She is not a high energy, robust child so I didn't want her doing too many things but don't want to hold her back....Thanks

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answers from Minneapolis on

Kids vary a lot. For my son, school was hard work at that age (the paying attention and following directions part, not the school work part) so he did not handle having more than 2 activities in a week (Cub Scouts and chess club or karate). A couple times he had three when activities overlapped, but that was tough. Weekends we prefer to do stuff as a family.

In general, I have found my son is much happier when he has plenty of free time to run around in the woods.

In contrast, my nieces are in Chinese, piano, violin, swimming, soccer, and gymnastics. NUTS!!!!

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answers from Atlanta on

This is more than enough. You could easily take it down to one and it'd be plenty. Gymnastics or swimming is better for this age and no competive games. She's only 6, she has a whole life ahead. Save something for growth. Find something she loves and stick to it.

She needs to do things at home that are with you/family as well as have time to just deflate -- breath. This is far more important than all these activities that won't come to mean much of anything in time.

Just MO - but I have studied child development for many years as well as socialology and such.

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answers from Boston on

Less is better. Kids are too over-programmed and they don't know how to be creative or be alone. Ask any teacher about kids who are so over-scheduled that they can't do quiet time or think outside the box.

2 a week is fine. That's what we did until our son was much older and really wanted to devote the time to one thing he loved.

Otherwise you're just throwing money at programs and then nagging the kid to go because it's paid for.

If she has friends in the neighborhood, encourage impromptu play, bike riding, outside play, walks, and so on! Resist the pressure from other parents - you are not doing anything wrong!

And the definition of "holding a child back" could be expanded to not giving a child down time to develop her own interests.

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answers from Norfolk on

I didn't start my son on anything till he was 8 then we did taekwondo.
He didn't start a 2nd activity till he was in 6th grade (clarinet/band).
Before he was 8, he didn't listen well enough and his attention span was too short.
Plus - he was having too much fun with unstructured play.
He built forts, enjoyed playgrounds, enjoyed his toys.
We could do the zoo or aquarium or a museum or take a quick weekend trip and not have to worry about missing a game or tournament or class.
He/we enjoyed life not worrying about what was next on the calendar.

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answers from Grand Forks on

We always did just two at that age. Swimming lessons once a week, then martial arts or soccer twice a week. The swimming lessons are my choice, as far as I'm concerned they are mandatory. The soccer and martial arts were activities they chose to do. They both did church choir as well, but that is just an hour practice after church.

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answers from Chicago on

My daughter just turned 7 and she has a playdate every Monday and we are starting GS in a couple weeks - that will be every other week. I keep it simple during the school year because our focus is school work, first, and I've found that if we're running too much, the school work gets put last and all of a sudden we're not reading, or doing the math supplemental work. We get the bare bones done - papers that come home and need to be turned back in, but that's it.

During the summers though, we do lots of fun classes.

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answers from Phoenix on

I would say one, at least for our lifestyle right now. We both work, DD has homework & required reading every night, and we still want to have time to care of chores, have family & friend time, and time to decompress with what little time we have.

I guess maybe one more could be doable if I didn't work, or worked part time, because DD wouldn't have to be in bed as early or get up as early and we'd have more time for the homework, chores, etc. Or, if DD has more than one thing she was REALLY into/excelled at. Right now we're in "trying to figure it out" mode.

No offense to anyone, but I am still perplexed as to why many parents feel the need to have their kids so over stimulated, over scheduled, and with no down time to enjoy childhood.

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answers from Erie on

My kids barely remember the activities they were involved in at age 6.

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answers from Detroit on

my 5 year old and 6 year old each have 2 activities right now.. but often they have to go to the other kids activity too.. so my daughter does piano and swim.. but my son comes to piano with her.. my son has swim ad soccer. but my daughter has to go to soccer ... they are in the same swim class.

but soccer is only 5 weeks.. and then it is over. soccer ends october 16... swim will end november 1.. then there will be no activities till after christmas..



answers from Chicago on

most sports are usually actually 2 days a week. one day is a practice the other day is a game. we tried to stick with 1 thing per child per week. but we had 3 boys so even thought it was one thing it seemed like we were in the car all the time lol. 2 of the boys were only a year apart so every other year they were on the same baseball team which was nice. but once we had t ball and then 2 separate older level teams and daughter in cheerleading. I had a huge calendar on the wall and there was a game or multiple practices going on. let them play with friends and just have down time the activities will pile on sooner than you think.



answers from Columbus on

I would stick to one, if that, at that age. I feel that free play and coming up with things to do on their own without a scheduled class is better for most young kids - especially since they are in scheduled classes 7 hours a day with school, not including travel time and homework. Riding bikes, having tea parties, playing outside, cloud gazing, hunting for fairies, climbing trees - these are the "activities" I would encourage most. ;)



answers from Oklahoma City on

It depends on what the 2 things are for sure. If she was doing soccer and BMX I would think that for a girl that is not high energy that would be way too much. But if she enjoyed dance and book club then that would not be too much for

Our granddaughter has always been over busy. I made so many mistakes with her mom that I over do the staying busy sometimes. This girl is super good at anything she tries. She is a gymnast on a show team, is doing her first pageant this weekend, takes tap/ballet/ hip hop dance, rides in BMX, and still has time to play outside with the neighborhood kids and have fun.



answers from Detroit on

I think it just depends on your child, and how much time the activities actually take up per week.

Our daughter just started kindergarten. She is doing gymnastics once a week (45 minutes), which she's been in since turning 3, and she just started dance because she wanted to (ballet, then tap, back-to-back on the same day once a week). She is doing 6 weeks of Saturday morning-only soccer, and has 4 weeks to go. To me, this is plenty, but she wants to do even more! She keeps asking me when we are going to do swim lessons again and when she can start piano! And I'm like, hey kid, take it easy, slow down! But that's her...she's always been high-energy and loves everything she tries, so I imagine as she gets older, it's going to be hard for her to pick and choose. But I would like to see her do music, plus at least one physical activity of her choosing (dance, etc.).

Our friend's 6 year old daughter is in 1st grade and does soccer (2 practices plus 1 game per week) and dance (3 classes per week, 2 on the same day). She's high-energy too.

You know your child best, and what you think they can handle. If she's not that high-energy, she might do better with something like piano if she's interested, but I would still want her in some kind of physical activity just so she can get some regular exercise. It does not have to be competitive, but more about building a skill, like swimming, and keeping her active.


answers from Santa Fe on

I think 2 is more than enough. My son is doing soccer and piano and because soccer is 2 practices and 1 game a week it actually feels like too much. I will be very happy when soccer is over.



answers from Hartford on

Depends on how often the activity meets during the week or weekend. Baseball with one practice during the week and 1-2 games on the weekend kept us busy enough. Too many acitivities takes away from family time, it is good for kids to have free time.



answers from Chicago on

My 6 year old does one activity at a time and sometimes no activities. He enjoys riding his bike and playing with the neighbor kids mostly. He enjoys free play since he is school all day and then after school care 3 days a week.



answers from San Francisco on

I think you are on the right track....keep trusting yourself mama!


answers from Austin on

1 per week is plenty..

Children need to time to decompress at this age. Having to keep themselves together at school all day and then another activity, takes a lot of energy and engaged.

Sometimes, just being able to play, to read, to do something on their own is just as important.



answers from New York on

It depends on the child, how rigerous the activity is, and how long it is. If your son is in school full time then 2-3 hours a week for structured activities is probably enough. My son is 4 and he take 2-3 30 minute karate classes a week and then a t-ball one a week. At his age, it's still just about fun and he love it.



answers from San Diego on

My daughter is nearing six and we do piano with practice four times p/week and one other activity of her choosing. My daughter loves a lot of down time and this works well for her. I have many friends whose kids need much more, but this is where knowing your child and their needs is key.



answers from Los Angeles on

I just follow my child's lead. Last year, when my son was doing half-day preschool three times a week, we were doing golf, piano, and T-ball. He just started full day kindergarten, and we are still doing piano. I was going to wait to see what he wants to do, but it seems like he still has plenty of energy when I pick him up. His school has after-school chess and martial arts programs, both of which he has expressed interest in. We'll see. He has plenty of time for free play - he's constantly having playdates with friends, riding his bike, playing legos by himself or with his dad, etc.

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