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What are your "extracurricular" spending priorities?


kubiac
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According to this David Brooks NYT column, enrichment activities for kids are increasingly unavailable (or unaffordable) through public sources, so that individual families must pick up the slack if they want their kids to have those opportunities. According to Brooks' information, the fact that wealthier families can afford more (~$5000 a year!) while less prosperous families can afford less (~$500 a year), contributes to increased educational inequality over time.

 

Anyway, I'm curious: Given that almost everyone operates under budget restrictions to some extent, what non-academic activities get your first dollar? Music, art, sports or...?

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Well, we have to pay for everything, but I do all the low cost and free things that are eduational that I can find as well like library programs, VBS, etc. We actually keep quite busy.

 

Our paid priorities for now:

 

co-op which includes dance classes. A studio would be more rigorous, but this serves our purposes.

 

Girl Scouts

 

Swim lessons in summer

 

Science museum membership

 

Zoo membership

 

Special traveling exhibits at the art museum

 

Some years: Homeschool field day and Science Fairs that type of thing with small expenses.

 

Field trips to other places. We do many that are not too expensive with scouts and friends.

 

We are considering a hs track team for one of our dds, but the time and money factor this year may be too much. We may drop the co-op in the future and do that instead for her and put the other in a dance studio and do all school at home.

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Art, Crafts & Kits.

 

Art - Art is a big part in our home, so our budget sees it more like a core subject in the way of monies

 

Crafts - I have little kids so all those giant allotments of craft supplies to make lots of messy, weird things are a must

 

Kits - I admit I tend to spend quite a bit on "kits". Its not as easy for us to get "ready, open and go" type curriculum kits out here, so I tend to get a lot of commercial toy kits (biology madness, crystal growing, polymers, lift the lid on...., etc)

 

We're also spending a few dollars this year on getting the kids innotab2's, some games, and accessories. I pretty much count that as a must. After all, how much would you pay for 20 minutes piece when waiting for DH to do a quick shop at the supermarket, or have the children all screaming for those 20 minutes? :tongue_smilie:

 

We also use the MusIQ program, but thats not that expensive. I would like something like a "sports kit" for prek-3 that has a book and supplies :lol: with simple activities. Everything seems to be based round either older (4th grade +) kids or is just stupid (lesson 1: 10 starjumps, 4 frog hops, and a patridge in a pear tree) ;)

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Art supplies. HUGE here. Dd is doing art for hours after school almost every day. Next is swimming lessons, as those are for safety reasons. Alsoa science class for dd. Don't have anything left atm, but I'm hoping dd can go to the dance class at the charter school here. We hit free museum days.

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We pay a lot. I swear I am going to Europe every year once the kids are grown.

 

Let's see..this is for both boys combined

 

Piano lessons: 200$ per month

Ballet lessons: a bit over 300$ every 9 weeks. We get a generous scholarship towards tuition.

Theater company: $1,000/year. That is so my older kid can be in two plays a year.

Community Chorus: 600$ for both kids for the year. This is new for us this year.

This year's summer activity: 336$ total for both boys

Swimming Lessons: 100$ youth membership at the Y per child (can't afford family membership) plus 20$ per session of lessons.

 

Trust me, that is NOTHING compared to what lots of people in this town pay. Heck, I think my friends pay more and do less. I feel like I get a good value for our money. The ballet scholarship helps a great deal. It makes the ballet possible.

 

I consider myself really lucky that I am home with the kids and don't have to pay the unbelievable price of summer 'camp' aka summer daycare. The absolute cheapest camp (the one where you don't want to send your kid) costs 230$ per week. If we had to pay for that, my kids couldn't do all the other stuff we do all year long.

 

My BIL's family routinely sent their kids to Europe for the summer or 'horse camp'. Often it horse came AND Europe. Or Europe and horse camp and volleyball camp.

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music lessons

 

art

 

cultural activities (theater, symphony, museum visits, etc.)

 

outdoor experiences

 

swimming

 

Exactly this plus Tae Kwon Do. In the summer we also do baseball on a rec league.

 

What a fascinating article! Thanks for posting it.

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Sports is definately a priority....3 boys and 2-3 sports each, year round(seasonal, each lasting 2-3 months) Figure $125 per sport on average, plus various equipment, easily over $1000 a year on sports. That is not even at a competative level, except for DS14's baseball, the rest is just rec leagues.

 

Next is Art for DS9...that's really his thing and so then DS6 tags along: $500 total per school year (2 semesters)

 

Then HS P.E. for DS9 and DS6: $300 per year total

 

Might do Band for DS9...waiting on details to be released...that would be $60 a month or so.

 

Then field trips, etc etc...this little things that add up.

 

So yeah, a good $2000+ per year on "extras".

 

*DS14 starts public high school this year so not sure how much $$$ we will be putting out for various activities at this point.

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For now, dance class takes priority (as far as extracurriculars go). My mom helps pay for it. It is super expensive, but DD *adores* dance, and is really good at it. Adores probably isn't even the right word for it. Dance is almost her life.

 

Coming in a very close second are violin lessons. The only way I can afford this is because it is offered through my university by student teachers at a cheaper rate.

 

She also takes a homeschool PE class at my university, but that is only 15 dollars a year. We are also lucky that many of the cultural productions put on at the university are free for students (me) and children (her), so we get to go to many of those for no cost. We've seen dancers and musicians from China, Mexico, India, musicians from Ukraine, a band from Louisiana, the orchestra twice a year, my university dance company twice a year.... :D Lots and lots of music around here!

 

Also the local zoo is free, as is the zoo in DC which we visit occasionally.

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For DS13, sports definitely takes priority.

 

Korean Martial Arts is our biggest money sucker. The cost has gone down some now that we're at 2nd degree black belt, but it's still $150 a month. That doesn't include testing fees, which were $500 this round + hotel for out of state testing, or mandatory black belt summer camp, $150 + hotel for out of state camp.

 

Baseball is in the fall and spring only but still cost around $300+ for the year.

 

Local memberships - zoos, pool, state parks etc., (close to $500 for all)

 

This year we also added in a summer Filmmaking camp ($200), photography class ($150) and drama class ($250).

 

After all that we add in field trips and local activities that may or may not be free (usually not).

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Our priorities:

 

art supplies including good ones

co-op that includes art classes

gym membership including indoor pool

 

 

We can't really afford a lot of the classes and such around here though in the past we have done ballet, horseback riding lessons and had a membership to the Children's museums around here.

 

I do look for free oportunities for my kids and when we take vacations they are usually full of learning experiences (we like the beach). We are also thinking of going to a science-fiction/comic book convention this year and/or next year and we watch a lot of documentaries on TV.

 

Sometimes I wish we had the resources for better art classes, computer classes, and science enrichment activities but we don't.:001_smile:

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Priorities are ballet & violin (equal first) followed by any available science classes (rare because they usually start at 7/8 and she is six) then another big muscle physical activity (swimming this term fir both of them, has been gymnastics) if can afford it/fit it in our week.

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I cut corners where I can....but there aren't many places to cut with the communities where we live all cutting corners too.

 

I just ran a rough calculator tally and we spend about $5000 a year on extras. Extras being non-homeschooling amounts.

 

Between the different sports (swim team, physical training, the Y, gymnastics rec team) and art extras and misc this and that we spend quite a bit.

 

Is this a luxury? YES!! If we were suddenly finically strapped then these things would change. Part of this, though, is our life style choice. We live on less than 1/2 of my dh's income, less than $35,000. We made the choice to live more simply.

 

THis article isn't just about the inequality between the classes. This highlights the education differences between the classes. Spend less and save more allows you to spend more where and when you can. It does NOT help to throw more money at the problem or to degrade people who aren't in the "education, marriage, then children is the Right Way" category.

 

Is there a "nice and easy" answer to this problem? No. Because no one wants to change. No one wants to change the actual social status and climate we have. We put little bandages on gaping wounds (like No Child Left Behind) and then throw our hands up into the air and cry "why didn't this work".

 

Kris

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our priorities have changed and probably always will. In their younger years it was sports and memberships to places to get out and explore. Then they expressed interest in music. When that waned I allowed them to quit against everyone's advice. No regrets, both still play and learn on their own and don't want 'lessons'. They prefer to teach themselves music :lol: But I wanted art for them this year so that became priority. This summer each got a week of some kind of camp for the first time. Ds joined scouts so that is his priority. Now he wants sports again....3 seasons this upcoming year! :001_huh: Dd found gymnastics so that is her thing for now. And art if I find the money for more classes, otherwise she has a curriculum to do at home. We always have art supplies and kits being bought. Not so many memberships anymore. It's always changing....:tongue_smilie:

 

But I wouldn't say we have priorities for them anymore. At this point we let them choose and when they are ready to move on, we do.

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Sports (ballet, swimming, baseball) - We spend the most $ here, because DS isn't taking piano yet and because swimming is a priority until they are both competent swimmers. Also DD has had some gross motor skill delay and the physical challenges have been very important for her. DS enjoys the all boys time that sports provides. When he is old enough to be a cub scout, sports will likely get less time and $.

 

Piano lessons

 

Cultural activities - theater, museums, art classes etc. We do many things locally that are not expensive, sometimes as a family and sometimes with a homeschool group. Lots of this available here.

 

Zoo/ Science/ Nature activities - again not usually expensive here and lots available.

 

We are glad to have excellent parks, libraries, fine and performing arts, history and nature activities here.

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That is an interesting article. It reminds me of one I read earlier -- that there is a digital divide between lower & higher socio-economic groups -- and it is the opposite of what used to be predicted, with poorer kids spending more time on media.

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/30/us/new-digital-divide-seen-in-wasting-time-online.html?pagewanted=all

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Summer: DD does several camps and we join a pool and she has swim lessons. I try to have her choose camps that don't duplicate her school year activities.

 

School year: aerial dance, flamenco, horseback riding, pottery, rock climbing

 

She is also going to start violin this year and possibly tumbling, just to help improve her aerial acrobatics skills.

 

She also does a once a week outdoor program for homeschoolers.

 

We have also previously done other art and science classes.

 

We also host a zoo club run by our zoo for local homeschoolers and have museum memberships.

 

She is not into team sports so I guess our focus is on the arts and individual athletics.

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Piano lessons for 13yo - $40 per month.

 

Art co-op for 13yo - $60 per year.

 

We've really had to cut back because our youngest needs occupational therapy ($150 a week) and will soon need vision therapy ($3,000 for 12 weeks!!!!).

 

Normally, we're involved in a lot more activities but we just can't afford them this year.

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We do Karate lessons for two of the boys, soccer league for one other boy, and pay for two or three field trips a year (Medieval Tournament, historical site, etc.)

 

That's it.

 

My husband gives informal art lessons to the kids (if they are interested); he is an artist by profession. We have plenty of books, pencils, paper, crayons, paints, etc. around the house.

 

I have been ineffectively handing down my meager knowledge about playing the piano.

Edited by Zoo Keeper
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1 - Swimming - lifetime skill, as well as something they really need to know as my inlaws live on a lake and spend a lot of time on a boat

 

2 - Dancing - there are two kinds of kids in college - the ones on the dance floor, and the ones standing at the bar getting drunk b/c they are uncomfortable dancing. I want my kids to be on the dance floor!

 

3 - Sports teams in church leagues (soccer, basketball, baseball) - inexpensive development of gross motor skills. Again, something that lots of people do for a lifetime, so worth investing in.

 

Everything else is gravy. Those are the three things I would count as my top priorities.

 

"gravy" activities:

4 - fine arts co-op - public speaking, chorus, drawing, puppet theater (drama)

 

5 - gymnastics - I have one kid who just CRAVES fast moving, high flying, activities - we try to get it out at gymnastics class rather than on my sofas...

 

6 - church choir - free

 

7 - homeschool PE at the YMCA - very inexpensive ($15 per month) and well worth it!

Edited by MeganW
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Right now our priority is travel, and we arrange our trips to correlate with what we are studying. This works for us because we live in central europe.

 

I teach art classes to to kids at the community center which doesn't make me much money, but it does cover the cost of the art projects and curriculum I want to use with my own kids. The families pay 35 dollars per child per 6 weeks. This covers the 25 percent per child fee to the building, the cost of supplies/curriculum and my babysitter for the younger kids. Leaving me like.... 100 bucks per 6 weeks.

 

That 100 goes to sports. So that is covered by my teaching.

 

I want to add in music classes, but that means dropping preschool for my 4 year old. I like that time for my sanity.... so I haven't decided yet.

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In order of importance:

 

Swimming lessons

 

Outdoor experiences (we rock climb, hike, bike, and ski as a family)

 

Zoo Membership

 

Science Museum membership (bought because we were travelling to another city and wanted the reciprocity benefits).

 

Botanical Garden membership

 

Legoland California Resort Membership

 

The Legoland membership probably seems like an extravagance but we live 15 minutes away and includes the aquarium and water park so we get a ton of use out of it. We also get a military rate so its only about $250 for the whole year for DS and I with free parking and other discounts. It also saves us a bundle in that it satisfies any urge we have to do other theme parks like Disney :D

 

Swimming lessons are the #1 priority because its a safety issue and a great life long sport. We do swim lessons year round at a phenomenal private swim school. Altogether it probably comes to about $3000/yr counting ski lessons when we go on vacation.

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I agree with the basic premise of the article. Even in ps the extra costs involved to be a part of band or sports was too much of a burden for my single mother. Outside community activities? Not happening.

 

I see this in the homeschool world as well. We don't make a ton of money and when you budget for the essentials of life (mortgage, insurance, utilities, repairs, grocery, clothing etc) and then budget for the basic homeschooling books and supplies, there's not a lot left over for extras.

 

We do soccer and my oldest has a karate class that he loves. We've joined a co-op. We're philosophically opposed to Little League so that's a non-issue. We've wanted to do tennis lessons or gymnastics for ages but $$. They aren't cheap. We haven't done music lessons because of the price of instruments. Art and science supplies get the most of our extra priority. I'm comfortable teaching art. My dh is able to give guitar or drum lessons. He's also a jock type so he's able to teach the kids a lot of sports skills like basketball, tennis, soccer. In our rural area, trips to museums or zoos etc usually require a long drive (gas prices) and a complete rearrangement of schedule and even possible over nights.

 

Anyway---yes I do agree that the increasing cost of extracurriculars do create a divide and educational gap.

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I teach art classes to to kids at the community center which doesn't make me much money, but it does cover the cost of the art projects and curriculum I want to use with my own kids. The families pay 35 dollars per child per 6 weeks. This covers the 25 percent per child fee to the building, the cost of supplies/curriculum and my babysitter for the younger kids. Leaving me like.... 100 bucks per 6 weeks.

 

So you are charging less than $6 per class?? Activities here are usually at an absolute minimum $8 per hour, and that's for really unskilled stuff - more like babysitting than actual activities.

 

For art classes, I would expect to pay twice what you are charging. And that would be for an average art class, nothing spectacular. Have you checked the rates of other activities in your area to be sure you are charging an appropriate rate? Or is this more of a community service thing for you?

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Mainly sports b/c that's what interests my boys (soccer and swim lessons). I'd like to start music lessons, but they haven't been very interested and DH says not to sign them up if they're not. :glare: Also Awana, but that technically has very little cost...the main cost comes from me being a leader and helping supply all the prizes and snacks each year.

We've also done art classes through the local parks dept.

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After education, therapies and family activities, our priorities for each kid are a little different, and they change periodically.

 

DS 13 - Ballet, piano, tennis.

DS 11 - Hockey, baseball, cello, piano, other sports.

DS 9 - Ballet, cheerleading, gymnastics, hockey, violin, piano.

DS 8 - Hockey, baseball, piano, other sports.

DS 4 - Swimming lessons, dance, gymnastics.

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swim lessons, now swim team- $250 for both girls for the summer

YMCA membership so we can swim year round- $65 a month for the family (cheap! I know! Our Y is very small)

 

Soccer for one DD- $200 a year, minimal expenses here and there

Museum memberships and fees

 

Science, weekly- $100/month for both girls- it's a steal

 

TRAVEL. I don't really know where to put this in the list of priorities. It's a huge priority for our family, but I wouldn't give up swim team for one trip, you know? This year we went to Niagara Falls, New York City (twice), Gettysburg, VA beach, Williamsburg, and spent a month at the beach in CA. So yeah, we spend a lot traveling, but I's rather give up one trip than a season of a sport, you know?

 

We don't spend a lot on art supplies because we have a generous grandma.

 

When it's all said and done, I think we probably spend the most (after travel) on seasonal activities around town.

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Our top priority is music lessons.

 

We also pay for:

high-quality art supplies

ballet lessons (& summer ballet camp)

gymnastics

seasonal team sports

memberships to our state zoo, the state aquariums, & our local children's museum (our state's art, science, & history museums are free)

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So you are charging less than $6 per class?? Activities here are usually at an absolute minimum $8 per hour, and that's for really unskilled stuff - more like babysitting than actual activities.

 

I'm military overseas, and am teaching at the USO.... I know I *could* charge more, but I feel like these kids really *need* something, being so far from the states, facing so many deployments. I guess I just like being nice.

 

Thank you for the food for thought though, I would love to charge a little bit more so I could afford to incorporate a larger variety of mediums- for now we stick mostly with tempera, watercolor and clay (and of course the basics crayon, pencil and marker).

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Physical things like gymnastics is a big priority for my little guys. I couldn't afford those things with my first two and they both have various issues we've had to overcome, so I try to make sure my younger ones do a lot physically. A lot of that is free (park swings, rolling down grassy hills, climbing trees), but gymnastics add an extra component to that.

Swim lessons are also a must, for safety reasons at the very least.

I also pay for classes at our local resource center, Village Home. That is about $300 per 10 week term for all my kids.

And then music lessons, we did a cheap group lesson for violin this last year through the public schools, only $40 a month! But I don't know if we will continue, my daughter didn't like the teacher. :)

We also have memberships to the science museum and zoo. I buy art supplies and such, but I don't consider that o be extra-curricular.

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It varies for each child and each season of life. Since we have been living in a townhouse without any outside space of our own, we pay for swimming/diving for our kids. The pool is within walking distance and provides exercise for my kids. Before we lived here and had lots of space and kids outside, we didn't pay for PE type things.

 

In the past we have shakespeare/theater classes have been at the top of my list for extracurriculars. We've decided to focus on art this coming year because my kids have reached a level where I can't add anymore to their knowledge. Those classes will be about 150$ a month per child, so that will be our extra-curricular.

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This year, my DD will have her bowling league, Girl Scouts, and she'll go to the co-op for half a day to do Chorus and Karate. She is coming out of public school, and was never able to do much extra curricular wise because she always had so much homework. So I'm not sure if we will add anything else.

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I'm military overseas, and am teaching at the USO.... I know I *could* charge more, but I feel like these kids really *need* something, being so far from the states, facing so many deployments. I guess I just like being nice.

 

Thank you for the food for thought though, I would love to charge a little bit more so I could afford to incorporate a larger variety of mediums- for now we stick mostly with tempera, watercolor and clay (and of course the basics crayon, pencil and marker).

 

In that case, I would send home a wish list of supplies with parents, explaining that you would like to incorporate more materials, but that you are barely breaking even with covering your costs. In an effort to keep the price low so as not to exclude those who can't afford more, you would like them to contribute supplies from the following list as they are willing and able.

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In that case, I would send home a wish list of supplies with parents, explaining that you would like to incorporate more materials, but that you are barely breaking even with covering your costs. In an effort to keep the price low so as not to exclude those who can't afford more, you would like them to contribute supplies from the following list as they are willing and able.

 

Great idea- thank you! :-)

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Year round it's swim team (soon for both children). During the school year, we add in art class at a museum and dance classes for both. In the summer, it's surf club for the older, with my younger joining in when he's old enough.

 

It's about $2500 for the 2 of them. Keeps me from buying the expensive wine...

 

:)

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We probably spend about $1,200/ year total on extracurricular activities for our 3 kids. Most of the money goes to violin lessons & museum memberships.

 

Our Current Activities

Violin Lessons (taken through the community center to keep the cost down)

Religious Education (~$35/per kid, per year)

Sports (Little League Baseball, Tennis Lessons, Swimming Lessons etc...)

Theater Classes/Productions

Museum Memberships

Concerts, Theater, Festivals, Field Trips etc...

Travel

 

This year we might add a co-op, 4H, choir, and art classes at the local art museum as well

 

My youngest children's activities thus far are mostly free (weekly library classes, puppet shows, various playgroups, story time & crafts at the bookstore, park days, playground meet-ups etc...). Once they are a bit older I except the extra-curricular cost to rise substantially.

 

Although I appreciate all the extra activities we get to do, I really wish we lived in a neighborhood where kids could just knock on each others doors and ask each other to come out and play. Activities run by adults can never truly replicate the spontaneous imaginative play of children.

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What non-academic activities get your first dollar? Music, art, sports or...?

 

Our girls are ages 5, 5, and 7.

 

Music -- We purchased a simple electronic keyboard with gift money. We purchased two simple recorders for our 2nd grader this year (one for teacher, one for student), along with a few beginner books. We bought a simple music theory course to work through at home, and Mom has an adult music theory course for herself this year. We also purchased three books in the Color the Classics series.

 

Art -- We bought the whole set of Draw-Write-Now books, along with supplies for three students and one non-artsy teacher. ;)

 

Sports -- We bought scooters and helmets for all three girls. My parents bought them a swing set. We got a small easy-set pool for the summer. So far, the girls have had one season of swimming lessons at the local college, but no other "official" sports or teams. I feel like we probably don't sign them up for enough in this area, because we hate that rushed, running around feeling in the evenings and on weekends.

 

Even if we had more money to spend, music lessons outside the home would not begin until we had maxed out what we could do here (9? 10?). My DREAM WISH LIST would include these:

 

 

  • A homeschool or afterschool music group with highly qualified music instructors who would teach my children the basics of music; how to play at least two instruments (one string, one woodwind/brass); what musical pieces and groupings are properly called (e.g., cantata, solo); and how to take care of an instrument/put it away.

  • A homeschool or afterschool art group with highly qualified art instructors who would teach my children the basics of art (line, shape, color, perspective, whatever else I am clueless about); how to draw, paint, and sculpt; what materials and techniques are properly called; and how to clean up! :D

  • An active, athletic female college student who would play active, running around kinds of games with the girls in the backyard or at a local park. She would also teach them to throw, catch, ride bikes, jump rope, kick a soccer ball, hit a softball, the rules and equipment of some common sports, how to warm up and cool down, how to play on a team with good sportsmanship, and so on. I suppose this person exists, we just have to sign up for township sports.

 

So, I essentially would hire a MUSIC TEACHER, an ART INSTRUCTOR, and a girls' COACH. :)

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Right now, just excercise and fun. We try to take advantage of the rec center now and then but honestly I don't think kids need everything. I do think my kids need mOre exercise and outdoors time so I pay for a homeschool sports program, and I'll be paying for gymnastics for my dd.

 

They are already receiving an excellent education at home, so I just want them to move and stretch and run and have fun and I'm willing to pay for that since I live in a condo, and it's challenging to find new ways to get moving.

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The thing we are most consistent with when outsourcing extracurricular is piano. Really, come to think of it, it is the only. My boys do not participate in a team sport, but they did take three summers of swim lessons.

 

This summer, I sprang for each of the two boys to take three classes at a local private school. It proved pricey ($1,500), but I felt good about it because it has been giving them time with other kids doing things they don't normally get to do. It is really only $53 dollars a day/$8.83 an hour, so I really cannot complain. They also get to swim daily and play a ball game with other kids.

 

Ben's also taking a Lego camp which was less expensive.

 

Nathan took/will take: Field Biology, Journalism, and Hogwart's Academy OWL Level

 

Ben took/will take: Film Makers Academy, Survivor, and Senior Sports (he gets to play kick ball, dodge ball, soccer, etc).

 

The boys participated in a co-op last fall semester, but with the driving and such, it took us away from our academics too much. I am happier getting their time with other kids in that sort of setting done in the summer. ;)

 

I plan to hire someone for one year to give art lessons -- probably the year after the upcoming.

 

We attend concerts and plays as a family when it's not too pricey.

 

We have a membership to Colonial Williamsburg. We attend museums but really not often.

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Sports -- We bought scooters and helmets for all three girls. My parents bought them a swing set. We got a small easy-set pool for the summer. So far, the girls have had one season of swimming lessons at the local college, but no other "official" sports or teams. I feel like we probably don't sign them up for enough in this area, because we hate that rushed, running around feeling in the evenings and on weekends.

 

 

This is us.

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Right now, family activties, trips and outings are a priority. Sports (baseball, lacrosse, soccer, swimming lessons and gymnastics) and summer camps are close. Music and ballet are gravy at this point, but I can see them becoming more important to us over the next few years.

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