The last couple of years we have lived in a blissful bubble of no demands. Sure we did the random mommy and me music class and tried out Gymboree, but for the most part, Hailey (will be 4 years old in September) hasn’t had any real commitment to “lessons.” We are now at the age where that seems to be changing. More and more of her friends are enrolled in scheduled activities, from ballet to karate to swim and soccer.
I’ve been contemplating recently which path is right for our family. I can certainly see the enticing side of lessons. As a parent you really do what your kids to have the world and it’s tempting to feel the sooner you expose them to ALL THE THINGS, the more they will learn and the better off they will be.
However, I’ve read plenty on the other side of things about the downside of over-scheduling that I agree with. Plus, I’ve noticed the tendency sports have now to force kids to over-commit to a single sport (practices every day, games all weekend, intense try outs and travel for a single sport? all before the age of 10?) early on.
Quite frankly it seems to be a large debate where no one can agree on where the line should be drawn between free time and scheduled activities.
So, like most things with parenting, it seems best to make a decision based on what fits your particular family structure. For us, putting Hailey in regular swim lessons (that we started a few months back) has been invaluable in many ways, most importantly for the safety aspect in that we are often near water.
My little girl who cried every time bath water splashed in her eyes has gotten more skilled at wiping her eyes with her hands, holding her breath and learning to turn and grab the wall if she falls. More than that, she loves it. She’s made such great progress that it’s tempting to what to sign her up for everything from piano to ice skating.
However, I don’t want lessons to rob her of the joy of any of these things she loves, so I’ll be trying to space them out somewhat. For this fall, swim lessons (1x/week) will remain. We are also adding in soccer (which she is super excited about) that will be 1x/week as well. As far as lessons go, I think that fills our plate at this age/stage.
However, I want to keep exposing her, through play, to more. I took enough dance in my life to teach her some ballet basics (she already loves dancing around the house). She talks about wanting to go ice skating this winter, so I’m marking it on our to-do list. She also has had an uptick of interest in musical instruments (admittedly NOT my strong suit), so Mema is getting her color coordinated piano stickers so she can start to learn more and play.
I’m hoping that by keeping scheduled activities to a minimum that we strike that right balance for our family in which she has some scheduled enriching activities, but still plenty of time of just regular old PLAY. Play around the house with her sister, play around in the yard, play by herself and play in the pool with mom just for fun.
What activities are your kids signed up for?
What age did you start?
Have you found them beneficial or do they feel overly demanding?