Wednesday, November 15, 2006
Here is my question: what do you think about children and extracurricular activities? Right now we've got 7 year old Eli taking piano lessons. He practices at home and has a 45 minute lesson every Saturday morning at his teacher's house, here in our neighborhood. He has 2-3 recitals a year. This seems very do-able, and I'm glad he's involved in this. He seems to love the piano and is doing well. I do not feel overwhelmed by the committment. Adam is not involved in any activity right now. I feel extremely hesitant to sign my kids up for things. Having to be places at certain times is stressful for me. I want them to be able to play and hang out at home. I don't want to spend Saturdays at various sporting events. On the other hand, I worry that if I wait too long, they will be too old to get the hang of various things. Here is what Dan suggests: 1 activitiy at a time while they're in elementary school, and 2 at a time in middle and high school. For Eli, that would mean just piano until grade six. Adam is sort of planning to start piano when he starts first grade, like Eli did. But what about sports? Eli played soccer after school in kindergarten, and I did not like having to be at the practices and games. I signed him up for several activities after school when he started first grade, but he asked me to cancel them because he was too tired after school, and I was relieved because I felt the same way. He did enjoy a non-competitive after school basketball program last year that he did once a week for an hour. I liked that, too, because there were no games to go to. When I was swimming today, I was thinking about what a valuable skill swimming is, and how grateful I am that I can swim for exercise. I would really like to pass that skill along to all of my children, both for safety and enjoyment of water-based recreational activities, and as a way of exercising throughout their lives. You may have noticed in my narrative that a lot of my hesitation about the boys' activities is because of my lack of energy and desire. You may be thinking "she shouldn't keep her boys from having these important experiences because of her laziness." While I do worry about this, I'm not sure how important these extracurricular experiences really are at this age. I know I've read things about kids being over-scheduled and about the importance of unstructured play. I know that I got burned out by the time my high school years were over from all of my activities, and I wish I had spent more time at home with my family (this is not meant as a criticism to you, mom and dad--I'm so grateful for all of the opportunities you gave me, and I did have wonderful experiences with swimming and dancing). When I joined the swim team, I think I was 10 or 11 years old. The kids who had been on the team since they were 8 & unders seemed to be a lot better swimmers, but that didn't prevent me from being a decent swimmer and now I enjoy swimming for exercise as much as they do, I imagine. I don't know if I would have been more competitive if I had gotten started earlier. If I don't get Eli and Adam into sports soon, are they never going to be good athletes? If they wait to do serious sports until they're offered by the school (6th grade, age 11), will that be too late for them? I'd love to hear what you think about these things.
Posted by An at 1:53 PM