Read on to see how I've tried to simplify things for my 3.5 and 5 year old (and myself of course).
Children need to sleep. Children need to play. Children need to have some rules and structure in their lives. Children need opportunities to socialize and learn things. But most importantly, these days, children need the opportunity to just chill-ax and entertain themselves (without an iPad).
If your child is in a good preschool...you have already given them a huge gift. They are learning, socialising, learning rules and developing in an ideal environment. Ours is a full-day preschool for 3+ year olds and we are truly lucky to have found a great all around school in which children literally blossom in front of your eyes.
My problem is not with full-day preschool programs. My problem is with the dozen or so "activities", "classes" and "camps" we are trying to schedule into our kids lives. Even if your children love all of these extra-curricular activities, you as a parent have to slow things down and simplify things for them.
Let's take a look at Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs as it applies to young children...
Here is what an ideal, typical, simple day looks like...in my opinion
7:00 Wake-up and breakfast with the family
8:00 Leave for school
16:00 Come-back from school, snack, decompress
16:30 Play, go outside, run, jump
19:30 Play with mom-dad-read-homework
But what about gymnastics, drama, french, tennis, swimming, fencing, horse-back riding, golf lessons?? They can wait. If they are a must, these activities can take place on the weekend. One or two of them...max. If only weekdays are available for these activities then these can take place once a week instead of play and TV/screen time. My rule of thumb here is that an activity should not interfere with SLEEP schedules and or unstructured (especially physical) play.
Don't worry if your child doesn't speak Chinese. They will not be left out of the global economy. Just running after a basketball or playing hopscotch or playing tag in the pool are enough as far as activities which make preschoolers happy and healthy. Don't worry your children will not fare better than you...we started them in really good preschools at age 2 for god sake!
Here is what I aim for in terms of allocation of hours for different activities...maybe you'll agree...maybe you won't...either way, I would love to hear your thoughts on this matter of crazy over-scheduling of young kids in urban very upwardly mobile families...