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balancing other interests (e.g. music) vs. math


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I do want to say that many children do view themselves as robbed a childhood... I personally grew up poor so I know that cello is better than nothing. But you cannot deny that many children resent parental pressure to excel early. 

Of course there are worse things to resent, and most children resent something! :)

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13 minutes ago, Tsuga said:

I apologize for the delay in replying but I wanted to give you a thoughtful response.

I realize your parenting goes beyond what you are revealing here. I myself have my own ambitions for my kids I am not talking about here.

From my side I do not support anything beyond rec sports for kids. When you compare your dreams to NFL dreams, frankly, I balk. The pro sports leagues in my mind are some of the most racist, dangerous professions on the planet; while the athletes themselves are impressive, the fact that their health is sacrificed at the altar of profit and popularity disgusts me. From doping to unsafe rules, I am sad. I do respect the athletes for their stamina and hard work but I have little respect for parents who have that as a goal for kids.

"What is the alternative?  or for that matter, what is a balanced childhood?"

Well, first of all, any time you have to say no to trying something new, at least in elementary, that is out of balance, in my opinion. Some children are single minded to an extreme, but most will ask about joining trampoline club, or scouts, or joining soccer, or something.

Obviously, as we get older and have tried more things, our interests narrow.

Bit if the answer in primary is "but you can't do watercolor, that day you have cello!" Then I think you should rethink it to some extent. Find another day. Find a flexible teacher. Miss a class.

I don't let my kids sit around all the time and I don't let them play video games. Screen time is earned with math, and music is non negotiable. But they do scouts. They do volunteering. They do at least two sports per year and we go hiking. They grow food in our garden. If their arms got cut off or they got a head injury, they would still have a part of themselves, a social part, to celebrate. The gardening part, the scouts part, the friend part, the art part, the math part, the swim part, the little person who draws pictures for others to cheer them up part. They are whole people.

And yes, that means that unless they request it, they will not be junior virtuosos. But as they become adults, they will have MANY choices about what to excel in.

I don't think the world is short junior string virtuosos. It is short kindness though. It is short loving, happy people.

I am sure that we share this goal, also your goal as a mom is a loving, kind son, so to answer your question, what does it look like, I don't know, but we must always question ourselves as moms.

Good luck on your journey!

 

Couldn't agree more on your point about how the world is not short of talented people but kind people.  That is why I take my sons to food bank to volunteer and want to be intentional about continuing to expose them to so much needs that exist in our world.  

RE your disgust with kids being driven by parents to become NFL or MLB superstars, this is just something that I remain very ignorant, although I very much enjoy watching sports.   I just had a romantic notion of kids like my sons having a pipe dream; i.e. a 5foot 8incher Asian guy trying to make a NFL team.  I was at a loss when my son told me he also wants to play a running back.  My son is among the smallest in his class.  Like I have said before, a "problem" or a strength for my first son is that he wants to try so many things.   The more impossible it seems, the more enticing it seems for him!

Lastly, I am a dad, btw.  Perhaps this may further help you to understand where some of my "male" points come from.  

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7 hours ago, lewelma said:

I have really struggled to decide how to answer your question.  The answer is both yes and no. 

The brief version: My ds went to the IMO at age 15, 16 and soon to be 17. He is completely self taught with no teachers, tutors, knowledgeable parent, or classes.  He is also at a National level in violin here in NZ and has studied with the Associate Concertmaster of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra for the past 6 years. So that seems to say that Yes, it is possible to be pointy in two areas.  But it is so much more complicated than that.

The longer version: You can always be better. And when your focus becomes the competitions rather than the joy of learning, you start to second guess the time spent in other activities.  If ds did not play his violin so much, he could have spent more time on math and earned a silver last year at the IMO.  If he did not spend so much time on math, he would have had time to be in the National Youth Orchestra and get to the finalists in the National Chamber Music Competitions (both of his teacher's senior students did this last year). But there has simply not been time for everything.  Also when you focus on the competitions rather than the joy of learning, you become more aware that the kids you are competing against have sacrificed all for one goal, and you are holding onto 2.  This obviously puts you at a disadvantage, so if not careful, you can feel like a constant failure -- never living up to your potential because you have chosen 2 loves, rather than 1. So here's the point.  It can't be about competitions.  If that is the focus, it will destroy you.  

Doing well in competitions is a *side effect* of the love of learning.  My ds started competitions at the age of 13, because he was asked to take the British Math Olympiad by the NZ IMO camp.  He really didn't want to.  Competitions were never his goal, his goal was to be with others who shared his passion for math. He never studied for a competition by doing practice questions/exams until last year, when he studied actual "competition math" for the four months before the IMO. And you know what, it was a disaster.  This is what he wrote about the experience:

"Until the age of 16 I had never really studied for a mathematics olympiad. But three weeks before the Australian Math Olympiad I decided to try a new technique -- to study with intensity. The results were outstanding, and I earned ninth place. Bolstered by this success, I used the same technique to prepare for the Internaional Mathematical Olympiad spending even more time on math. This was a mistake. At first I loved the mystery of the problems and probing the unknown. But as time passed, and I put even more hours into math, I began to fear it -- all that mattered was whether I could solve the problem or not. By the time of the IMO, any enjoyment that I still felt about olympiad math had fled and with it all the creative problem solving I had cultivated for the previous years."

During those 4 months, he changed his *mindset* from passion to competition. And then it was all about beating the others. Others who were likely spending more time than he was, sacrificing all other passions, going to special camps, having special tutors, etc. The fear came from external judgment and recognition, whereas up until that point, math was all about internal beauty and focus. To do *really* well in the competitions, he would have had to sacrifice everything. But that would have left him a shadow of the man he has become. And if competitions had been the goal for all these years, the violin and his math would have actually started to compete for his time, and I think he would have felt pushed to quit one, pushed by his need to win. 

But what has come to pass is that he has both. Loves both, and does not regret spending time in both. Because neither one hindered the progress in the other and that was because he was only competing with himself and not with others.

Your son is 9. There is plenty of time. At 9, my boy was getting ready to spend 3 full years studying AoPS Intro Algebra, not exactly a speedy path to competition prowess. And at 9 he was learning violin from a Community Music Program, playing a $40 rented violin and taking $1 group lessons.  His technique was apparently atrocious and he was about to break his arm. 

You simply don't know what the future holds. What you do know is a small child's passion at this very moment.  I would focus on that, and let the competitions fall where they may.

Ruth in NZ

I love this post. Thank you Ruth. Please don't ever leave the forum. 

I've been mulling over the idea of competition these past few years, ever since DD began to show aptitude and interest in math and piano.  We live in a hyper-competitive area, and were I to "go with the flow" of the culture here, she'd be in all the math competitions, math circles, piano competitions, etc.   Instead, at this stage, we're letting her take things with the goal of exploration instead of mastery / supremacy. Don't get me wrong - when I say we're not focusing on mastery, I don't mean she's learning AOPS pre-alg in a wishy washy way. She is mastering the concepts and deeply engaged. What I mean is that we're not pushing her to be pointy in either area right now . She's working through AOPS at her own pace. She participated in math olympiad and math kangaroo this year because she wanted to, not because I forced her to.  We try to expose her to high quality material that can pique or deepen her interests, but I'm also trying to expose her to a broad range of non-math / music material and experiences. Is this the right approach? We *think* so, but I have periodic valleys of doubt and anxiety about it (especially living in our area where the culture is very achievement oriented), and I guess I won't know until we're on the other end of things. I appreciate the input of those who have been down this road (Lewelma, 8Fill, others) and I appreciate this thread for helping me reflect. 

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8 hours ago, lewelma said:

I have really struggled to decide how to answer your question.  The answer is both yes and no. 

The brief version: My ds went to the IMO at age 15, 16 and soon to be 17. He is completely self taught with no teachers, tutors, knowledgeable parent, or classes.  He is also at a National level in violin here in NZ and has studied with the Associate Concertmaster of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra for the past 6 years. So that seems to say that Yes, it is possible to be pointy in two areas.  But it is so much more complicated than that.

The longer version: You can always be better. And when your focus becomes the competitions rather than the joy of learning, you start to second guess the time spent in other activities.  If ds did not play his violin so much, he could have spent more time on math and earned a silver last year at the IMO.  If he did not spend so much time on math, he would have had time to be in the National Youth Orchestra and get to the finalists in the National Chamber Music Competitions (both of his teacher's senior students did this last year). But there has simply not been time for everything.  Also when you focus on the competitions rather than the joy of learning, you become more aware that the kids you are competing against have sacrificed all for one goal, and you are holding onto 2.  This obviously puts you at a disadvantage, so if not careful, you can feel like a constant failure -- never living up to your potential because you have chosen 2 loves, rather than 1. So here's the point.  It can't be about competitions.  If that is the focus, it will destroy you.  

Doing well in competitions is a *side effect* of the love of learning.  My ds started competitions at the age of 13, because he was asked to take the British Math Olympiad by the NZ IMO camp.  He really didn't want to.  Competitions were never his goal, his goal was to be with others who shared his passion for math. He never studied for a competition by doing practice questions/exams until last year, when he studied actual "competition math" for the four months before the IMO. And you know what, it was a disaster.  This is what he wrote about the experience:

"Until the age of 16 I had never really studied for a mathematics olympiad. But three weeks before the Australian Math Olympiad I decided to try a new technique -- to study with intensity. The results were outstanding, and I earned ninth place. Bolstered by this success, I used the same technique to prepare for the Internaional Mathematical Olympiad spending even more time on math. This was a mistake. At first I loved the mystery of the problems and probing the unknown. But as time passed, and I put even more hours into math, I began to fear it -- all that mattered was whether I could solve the problem or not. By the time of the IMO, any enjoyment that I still felt about olympiad math had fled and with it all the creative problem solving I had cultivated for the previous years."

During those 4 months, he changed his *mindset* from passion to competition. And then it was all about beating the others. Others who were likely spending more time than he was, sacrificing all other passions, going to special camps, having special tutors, etc. The fear came from external judgment and recognition, whereas up until that point, math was all about internal beauty and focus. To do *really* well in the competitions, he would have had to sacrifice everything. But that would have left him a shadow of the man he has become. And if competitions had been the goal for all these years, the violin and his math would have actually started to compete for his time, and I think he would have felt pushed to quit one, pushed by his need to win. 

But what has come to pass is that he has both. Loves both, and does not regret spending time in both. Because neither one hindered the progress in the other and that was because he was only competing with himself and not with others.

Your son is 9. There is plenty of time. At 9, my boy was getting ready to spend 3 full years studying AoPS Intro Algebra, not exactly a speedy path to competition prowess. And at 9 he was learning violin from a Community Music Program, playing a $40 rented violin and taking $1 group lessons.  His technique was apparently atrocious and he was about to break his arm. 

You simply don't know what the future holds. What you do know is a small child's passion at this very moment.  I would focus on that, and let the competitions fall where they may.

Ruth in NZ

 

Thank you Ruth for sharing your experience.   I certainly did not mean to cause any angst for you. 

I believe I can appreciate the unique challenge of pursuing music at a very high level -- not so much based on personal experience but through 2nd-hand and tertiary observations and stories that I have heard.  I see serious students flying to Los Angeles every couple of weeks for a private lesson as well as going to music camps during summer, all of which demand sig.  financial and time commitment.  This is not even mentioning all the competitions that they participate in all around the USA and Canada and even abroad.   And furthermore, as you mention, there is the horrendous challenge of making the schedule (including frequent need to cancel, reschedule, etc) and transportation work for  practice with piano accompaniment, youth symphony or chamber music participation, etc. on top of kid's schedule, which might be already pretty full with school and other extracurricular activities.  I am certainly hesitant to add more time for math for my son.   

Also, appreciate your point about how the innate motivation or love of learning matters greatly.   I think a parent can introduce something to a child, but unless a child truly cares for it himself or herself, he or she will not make a significant progress.   So, I hold loosely to our rather far-fetched goals, knowing that it would really depend on my son.   .  

I think I can sympathize with your son's struggles in trying to juggle two activities at a very high level as well.   Yes, it is scary that there is always a room for improvement and that there is always someone who is better.   My son just went to a competition yesterday.  Although he did well in my view, he was shocked by this kid, who finished the test in less than 20 minutes; this kid told everyone that he got a score in top 95% on AMC 10 as a fourth grader.   Unless child simply enjoy the activity even apart from external validation, any sign of early success might not last and/or worse the child may crash and burn.   

Lastly, congratz on your son's amazing accomplishments.   I tip my hat to you in having provided the love, support, and guidance for your son all these years.   Esp. with musical commitment, it would not have been easy to say the least.   Wish your son all the best in his college career.  

PS, just curious as to what your son is going to be studying or majoring in college?  Is it math? 

 

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41 minutes ago, HeighHo said:

For us, sports wasn't about the competition, but that was due to keeping it at Varsity level.  We had to get out of rec because the goal for us was physical fitness and skill.  Some of the peers were in simply to reach a decent level of fitness in order to join the military and make it through basic...there are just so many now who do so little that rec league doesn't even get to modified sports level skill, and  PE here features walking the track.  We wanted our children to have the joy of a body that worked well and a lifetime sport plus ability to stay fit.  Competition is just there for benchmarking or for trying out newly acquired skills in a different manner.  We don't want to put a lot of time in to just treading water, that's now how one develops muscle, fitness, agility, skill. I came to realize that Varsity is an appropriate level for many...its the natural progression of not wasting time, yet not going overboard in hours, just as exiting high school able to read lit is, and its an appropriate level for many lifetime activities. Its also a very good thing to be moving part of the day if one is going to be spending time sitting. My sons would never had made it through academics if they didn't have the sports movement...and there simply is no rec league after 6th grade here, so having enough skill to be on JV or V was helpful.

 

Very valid point re the importance of staying fit.   I love outdoors and enjoy running, hiking, and mountain climbing, esp. when I was a single.   Unfortunately, we have not been able to enjoy outdoors as much thus far.   Luckily, my son loves athletics; as a matter of fact, his favorite class at school is gym (PE).   Glad that his new school will offer PE 4 times a week vs. 2 times at his current school.  

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Whangty, I just wanted to compliment you on your gracious acceptance of many opinions. You seem like a dad who sincerely desires to get it right. 

To answer your question, my ds will be attending MIT for math and physics, with a minor in music performance.  He did send in a full music portfolio in his application package. 

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To take this philosophy to the next logical step.....high school to college to career/grad school.   Again, what are the goals?  Are there limits to their futures if they don't attend the highest ranked school?  (If the goal is to constantly achieve the "best," does not attending the best high school taking the best courses and pursuing the highest achievements for ECs  limit their ability to attend the highest ranked U?  What if they don't attend the highest ranked U? Does that limit their ability to attend the "best" grad program or get the "best" job?   How is "best" defined?  

I guess I am left wondering where does it end?  FWIW, our experience with our kids is that the above scenario is false.  Kids at avg schools can and do attend tippy top grad schools and end up working right alongside grads from top ranked schools.  

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14 hours ago, lewelma said:

And I think that comparing either math or music competitions to sports is missing a large distinction.  Math and music competitions are completely separate from success in these fields. This is not true of sports, because the goal *is* the competition, whether you are a child or adult. 

I agree with everything else you said, but wanted to mention that the bolded is not the case for all sports/all people.

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3 hours ago, 8FillTheHeart said:

To take this philosophy to the next logical step.....high school to college to career/grad school.   Again, what are the goals?  Are there limits to their futures if they don't attend the highest ranked school?  (If the goal is to constantly achieve the "best," does not attending the best high school taking the best courses and pursuing the highest achievements for ECs  limit their ability to attend the highest ranked U?  What if they don't attend the highest ranked U? Does that limit their ability to attend the "best" grad program or get the "best" job?   How is "best" defined?  

I guess I am left wondering where does it end?  FWIW, our experience with our kids is that the above scenario is false.  Kids at avg schools can and do attend tippy top grad schools and end up working right alongside grads from top ranked schools.  

Where does it end? For me, always chasing the next gold star landed me in an inpatient psych unit. A fabulous resume and fancy pedigree cannot buy happiness and contentment. Now, in my 40s, I'm trying to do things just for the simple pleasure and intrinsic reward, but I still catch myself falling into those old patterns of wanting the 'best' for myself and my kids. It is a hard habit to break. YMMV, OP.

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Yes I think it is appropriate and important to continue to think about the final destination or end goal for our kids.   What kind of people would we like our children to become esp. once they grow up and leave our home? 

I would be lying if I were to say that I have not noticed a trend in our area: ie. top musicians in our city youth orchestra or certain cello or violin studios not only have gone to some of the finest music schools but world-renowned academic schools for college.   Yes, I do think colleges will look favorably upon our kids' musical pursuits.  But, for now, for our 10 and 8 year old sons, preparing for college is really far removed from our day-to-day pursuit of various activities.    

For music, I believe there can be a great innate satisfaction in being able to capture or recreate beauty of music even at a very early stage.  I remember the sparkle in my son's eyes when he played 'twinkle twinkle little star' for the first time with his teacher.   Of course, he did not play it at a high level, but the fun and the joy was very real.   Seeing that has given me a great joy as well.  So I think at best pursuit of excellence in music can be a pursuit of increasing joy and beauty apart from fame and external validations like competitions.  My son has not done a single competition for cello, and I would like to keep it that way as long as I can until his teacher suggests otherwise. 

Nowadays, my son especially derives a great joy and satisfaction in being to play music that he has heard on youtube, etc.  It does not even have to be classical.   Indeed, I too think it is super cool to be able to imitate Piano Guys or play songs like Viva La Vida by Cold Play in addition to playing pieces like Unaccompanied Cello Suites by Bach.   I think my son now realizes that the more progress he makes, the more fun he can have in terms of wider selection of songs or pieces he can play.   I just hope that this positive cycle of fun and increasing self-motivation would happen to my 8 year old son as well, who just got started on a cello 6 months ago. 

I suppose when it comes to math, esp. at highest level, there might be a similar intellectual satisfaction in being able to solve super hard problems.   Although I do not understand such satisfaction personally, I have heard kids at IMO level referring to math as an artistic pursuit that they find a lot of beauty in addition to all the pressures that they do face.  Again, I believe this satisfaction can be had apart from external validations.   

Now as for sports, esp. as a male (it seems that I might be the only male poster on this thread), I just want to say that not all parents have unhealthy ambitions when it comes to their kids' sports.   Also, it seems to me that all the great ones in NFL, MLB, etc. invariably talk about their love of game as the reason for their success and accomplishments.  So, yes, they might have been pushed by their parents and coaches.   But along the journey, it seems that they developed the love and passion for the game themselves.   It seems that parental abuse might be more common in more individual-oriented sports like gymnastics (e.g. Nadia Comaneci).  

 

 

 

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There is definitely a huge difference between a kid driving himself and a parent driving him.    

If your son is driving himself, just make sure he's healthy (exercise/eating) and has a bit of breadth to go with the depth (a B&M school will handle that for you).

If you are driving him, then you need to worry about whether he cares about the goals that you have for him and how hard you are pushing him and having a balanced childhood.

I think letting a kid set goals is great if they have high aspirations.  I don't like to deter them from thinking big, but every year, or maybe even every couple of months, they need to reevaluate their direction.  What are their highest priorities as they grow in life?  What has to be sacrificed to achieve them?  At some point he'll be mature enough to figure out that either the goals are out of his reach and he has to choose one or the other, or that he's happy not with being #1, but simply "very good" at both, or he might even have a new goal in life to replace both.

I don't like to tell kids not to think big.  But I do like to make sure that they understand that achieving goals are the result of hard work.   I think the best thing is to ask him what he wants to accomplish and help him be practical about how to achieve it.   I'd let him choose, but don't stick him now into one of these paths.  Reevaluate each year.

My kid used to want to do well on the AMC math contests.  Now he wants to  publish a videogame and get a job for early investment, and cares a lot less about the math contests.  It's his life, and these are worthwhile goals, so as long as he's actually working towards them (and not watching TV all summer), then my job is to support those.   I *have* though insisted that if we're paying for lessons, he needs to make good use of them, or he needs to drop something.  

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From the New Yorker article:  "There’s the same agonizing question of American achievement: What can we learn, in a society dedicated to high-achieving children, from children who seem “naturally” off the charts in their achievements? How can we make our children less anxious while still making sure that they achieve?"

Deep breath.  The most important achievements in life are getting a job, buying a house, supporting your family, saving for retirement, treating people kindly, being charitable, and being happy.     Maybe kids would be less anxious if they understood what the purpose of their work really is and realized that most of those achievements are reachable by the average human being.

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The New Yorker article to me just highlights more parenting philosophies that I find disturbing and disagree with completely.  

Two points stated in the article, I can relate to:

  1. Childhood should not be considered a chain of causes leading to an ultimate effect: you do this so that will happen.
  2. Because children grow up, we think a child’s purpose is to grow up. But a child’s purpose is to be a child.

For me, personally, parenting and educating my kids is far less complex and definitely far different from anything expressed in that article.   My parenting philosophy for my young children can be pretty much summed up as their purpose is to be a child. When I read the accelerated forum, in some respects I guess it could be compared to imposter syndrome. "Do I belong here? I don't think I do bc when I read what other people are doing, our family is a fraud."  I absolutely cannot relate to the sentiment that there is no way to tell a 4 yr old that they can't do school work. I can't relate to keeping my kids scheduled bc without constantly engaging them they are at their wits end. I can't relate bc I see their purpose as young children as learning to play, using their imagination, and self-entertaining as a life-skill leading to self-regulation.  They spend their days pursuing the purpose of being a child.

When they are school age, their academic load grows very gradually and is incorporated into their daily pursuits. It isn't a shift from child to student. It is simply childhood starts to incorporate academics. They are still children with most of their days wide open to pursue playing, using their imaginations, and self-entertaining (which is completely removed from electronics and passive engagement.)  Every yr their academic day gets slightly longer. But, as they get older, they equally start to have more control over what it is they study. By the time they are high schoolers, they have ownership over their own academic pursuits and goals.

Since most of the posters on the accelerated forum have young kids and are very goal focused, I read and usually feel I don't belong here. But, equally, I have had kids that graduate from high school at pretty high levels of accomplishment, so obviously they are "accelerated."  We just take a very different path getting there and one where they are pretty much in charge in how that goes. It is very low key until middle school and they make the decisions to actively pursue whatever it is they want to pursue.

Fwiw, I think Terri's pt,

4 hours ago, TerriM said:

Maybe kids would be less anxious if they understood what the purpose of their work really is and realized that most of those achievements are reachable by the average human being

sums up the essence of the conversation. Kids don't have to superstars; kids don't have to have lists of amazing accomplishments as children followed by being accepted to elite colleges to pursue their life goals and dreams. Kids can be kids, can pursue whatever it is they want to do daily, go on to attend a completely avg universities, and **still** go on to whatever adulthood venture they want. They don't have to "be" anything as a child to "be" extremely accomplished adults.

Musical prodigy? Olympic athlete? No. Those are going to require sacrificing childhood. Musician? athlete? Yes.

But, since this is a homeschooling forum.....pursuing academic goals? Yes. Kids can *not* be caught up in the rat race stress of competitive college admissions from a young age and still move on to extremely competitive grad schools and careers if that is their goal. And they can do it without having lost "a child's purpose is to be a child." 

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On 4/5/2018 at 3:49 PM, whangty said:

Looking to hear your experience or thoughts on balancing other extracurricular interests vs. interest in math.  

My 4th grade son has so far focused on two main activities: cello(for 3 years) and math through math circle.  My son's cello teacher has told us that he is a rare talent and that he can go as far as he wants to go in cello if he were to put the necessary work in.  Our pipe dreams include going to Meadowmount Summer Music Camp and playing in National Youth Orchestra-USA like few of the older students with the same teacher have done.  I believe my son would really enjoy making music at such a high level.  

But, I realize that it would take a lot of work and perhaps almost singular dedication to reach these goals.   Herein lies our dilemma.   My son also enjoys math and math competitions; he would like to do well in AMC, MathCounts, JMO, etc.  This fall, he will be moving to a private school that has an excellent reputation in math; a recent MathCounts national winner as well as few USA(J)MO qualifiers have attended this school.  So we are about to amp up his time in math.  

What do you think?  Is it possible or reasonable to pursue these goals in two separate fields?  Right now, I am inclined to think that it is possible but we would not know until we really give it a try.  My son would have to really manage his time carefully and work efficiently.   However, my biggest fear is that I might push my son too hard and potentially rob him of a happy childhood.  Plus, I have a younger son as well who is also playing cello and showing interest in math.

Would esp. appreciate your first-hand account of success or struggles as well as any caveats or advice based on your experience.  Thx. a ton in advance!

 

 

 

 

 

 

I haven't read the other responses, so my thoughts have probably already been expressed by others.  A couple of phrases in your post jumped out at me. One of the phrases was, "our pipe dreams."  Please make sure the dreams are solely your son's.  My kids are all in high school or college now.  I have seen more than one parent/child relationship damaged because the dream was the parent's dream and the child was participating either because he had no choice or he was wanted to please his parents.  (My oldest son has a good friend who was pushed by his father.  The boy did achieve the lofty goals his dad set for him, but the boy has not spoken to his dad since the boy left for the elite college three years ago.)

The other phrase that struck me was, "my biggest fear is that I might push my son too hard"  You shouldn't be pushing your son at all.  You should definitely provide him with the opportunities, but it should be his decision how much time he devotes to his endeavors.

As to your question on whether we think it is possible to reach your goals in two separate fields, my answer would be no.  I don't know anything about the musical endeavors, but I do have some very limited experience on the math side.  My oldest son loves math.  When he was in 7th grade, he qualified for the state MathCounts competition.  As a parent, that event was a real eye-opener for me.  While the tests were being scored, the head of the event was reading math problems and asking the kids to shout out the answers.  The kids around me were shouting out the answers before the question had even been read in its entirety.  These kids clearly had spent so much time preparing for this competition that, not only had they been exposed to some of the questions, but they had actually memorized the answers.  .  

You mentioned that your son will be attending a school in the fall that is known for its strong math results in these competitions.  There is a private school in my area that publicizes its results in these competitions.  However, in this case, the school doesn't deserve any of the credit - these kids who are winning these awards are doing a ton of math outside of school.  Years ago on another homeschooling forum, a mom said that her IMO son spent 4 hours a day devoted to math.  Now if your son's goal is to do well on the AMC and qualify for the AIME, that is definitely possible without a big time commitment provided your son is learning from a rigorous math program.  Reaching JMO, especially if you live in the US, is going to require a big chunk of time.  

My college kids devoted 20+ hours a week to their sport when they were growing up.  They devoted the time because it made them happy. It was always their choice whether to practice or not.  My job was simply to drive them around.  Over the years, I have had other parents remark that it takes a lot of sacrifice to reach that high of a level.  I usually don't say this to the parent who made that remark, but I am thinking to myself that my boys do not think they "sacrificed" anything at all.  They were doing what they loved.  In my opinion, if the child believes he is sacrificing anything, he needs to re-evaluate how he is spending his time.

Good luck to you and your son!

 

 

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I have a son similar aged son in (5th grade) and who is high achieving in math by most standards (finishing AoPS Intro to Algebra this year, and has completed Intro Number Theory and Counting and Probability). He spends probably 2 hours a day on math but it still looks a lot like play. He is not sitting down and grinding through contest prep problems. There's no goal. What is he doing then? Here's a few examples: playing with Zometools, reading Murderous Maths books, watching James Tanton's Visualizing Mathematics videos and Numberphile, writing a python program to solve Knights and Knaves problems, experimenting with what numbers look like when written in fractional bases, developing betting strategies for casino games, reading about weird topics like the fourth dimension, going to the National Museum of Mathematics when we're in NYC, figuring out what different curves look like in taxicab geometry, learning the basics of digital logic circuit design, and so and so on. He even still loves to play with little kid math manipulatives like pentominoes and pattern blocks. We also play tons and tons of modern boardgames. I think this is what truly intrinsic math interest looks like.

Yes we still do our book work, but its relaxed and fun most of the time and we put it away when we don't feel like it. I also strew like crazy - I have a computer science and math background myself and LOVE this stuff so when he shows an interest in something I pull out tons of resources. But its organic, and more often than not he's the one showing me something new these days.  

Maybe my son is unusually immature but I have a hard time buying into the idea of a driven, goal-oriented 4th grader. How does a kid that age even know about AMC tests unless its coming from the parent? And yes, my DS took the AMC 8 last year for the first time but I presented it as "Hey, here's a chance to do some interesting problems." I didn't even tell him his score other than to say "You did better than the average." 

I'm parting with this picture of my son walking home from the National Math Festival last year when he was in 4th grade. I love the fact that as excited as he was about all of the math and games, he was almost as excited about the balloons. :) 

 

 

mathfestival.JPG

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7 hours ago, alewife said:

I haven't read the other responses, so my thoughts have probably already been expressed by others.  A couple of phrases in your post jumped out at me. One of the phrases was, "our pipe dreams."  Please make sure the dreams are solely your son's.  My kids are all in high school or college now.  I have seen more than one parent/child relationship damaged because the dream was the parent's dream and the child was participating either because he had no choice or he was wanted to please his parents.  (My oldest son has a good friend who was pushed by his father.  The boy did achieve the lofty goals his dad set for him, but the boy has not spoken to his dad since the boy left for the elite college three years ago.)

The other phrase that struck me was, "my biggest fear is that I might push my son too hard"  You shouldn't be pushing your son at all.  You should definitely provide him with the opportunities, but it should be his decision how much time he devotes to his endeavors.

As to your question on whether we think it is possible to reach your goals in two separate fields, my answer would be no.  I don't know anything about the musical endeavors, but I do have some very limited experience on the math side.  My oldest son loves math.  When he was in 7th grade, he qualified for the state MathCounts competition.  As a parent, that event was a real eye-opener for me.  While the tests were being scored, the head of the event was reading math problems and asking the kids to shout out the answers.  The kids around me were shouting out the answers before the question had even been read in its entirety.  These kids clearly had spent so much time preparing for this competition that, not only had they been exposed to some of the questions, but they had actually memorized the answers.  .  

You mentioned that your son will be attending a school in the fall that is known for its strong math results in these competitions.  There is a private school in my area that publicizes its results in these competitions.  However, in this case, the school doesn't deserve any of the credit - these kids who are winning these awards are doing a ton of math outside of school.  Years ago on another homeschooling forum, a mom said that her IMO son spent 4 hours a day devoted to math.  Now if your son's goal is to do well on the AMC and qualify for the AIME, that is definitely possible without a big time commitment provided your son is learning from a rigorous math program.  Reaching JMO, especially if you live in the US, is going to require a big chunk of time.  

My college kids devoted 20+ hours a week to their sport when they were growing up.  They devoted the time because it made them happy. It was always their choice whether to practice or not.  My job was simply to drive them around.  Over the years, I have had other parents remark that it takes a lot of sacrifice to reach that high of a level.  I usually don't say this to the parent who made that remark, but I am thinking to myself that my boys do not think they "sacrificed" anything at all.  They were doing what they loved.  In my opinion, if the child believes he is sacrificing anything, he needs to re-evaluate how he is spending his time.

Good luck to you and your son!

 

 

 

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9 hours ago, 8FillTheHeart said:

The New Yorker article to me just highlights more parenting philosophies that I find disturbing and disagree with completely.  

Two points stated in the article, I can relate to:

  1. Childhood should not be considered a chain of causes leading to an ultimate effect: you do this so that will happen.
  2. Because children grow up, we think a child’s purpose is to grow up. But a child’s purpose is to be a child.

For me, personally, parenting and educating my kids is far less complex and definitely far different from anything expressed in that article.   My parenting philosophy for my young children can be pretty much summed up as their purpose is to be a child. When I read the accelerated forum, in some respects I guess it could be compared to imposter syndrome. "Do I belong here? I don't think I do bc when I read what other people are doing, our family is a fraud."  I absolutely cannot relate to the sentiment that there is no way to tell a 4 yr old that they can't do school work. I can't relate to keeping my kids scheduled bc without constantly engaging them they are at their wits end. I can't relate bc I see their purpose as young children as learning to play, using their imagination, and self-entertaining as a life-skill leading to self-regulation.  They spend their days pursuing the purpose of being a child.

When they are school age, their academic load grows very gradually and is incorporated into their daily pursuits. It isn't a shift from child to student. It is simply childhood starts to incorporate academics. They are still children with most of their days wide open to pursue playing, using their imaginations, and self-entertaining (which is completely removed from electronics and passive engagement.)  Every yr their academic day gets slightly longer. But, as they get older, they equally start to have more control over what it is they study. By the time they are high schoolers, they have ownership over their own academic pursuits and goals.

Since most of the posters on the accelerated forum have young kids and are very goal focused, I read and usually feel I don't belong here. But, equally, I have had kids that graduate from high school at pretty high levels of accomplishment, so obviously they are "accelerated."  We just take a very different path getting there and one where they are pretty much in charge in how that goes. It is very low key until middle school and they make the decisions to actively pursue whatever it is they want to pursue.

Fwiw, I think Terri's pt,

sums up the essence of the conversation. Kids don't have to superstars; kids don't have to have lists of amazing accomplishments as children followed by being accepted to elite colleges to pursue their life goals and dreams. Kids can be kids, can pursue whatever it is they want to do daily, go on to attend a completely avg universities, and **still** go on to whatever adulthood venture they want. They don't have to "be" anything as a child to "be" extremely accomplished adults.

Musical prodigy? Olympic athlete? No. Those are going to require sacrificing childhood. Musician? athlete? Yes.

But, since this is a homeschooling forum.....pursuing academic goals? Yes. Kids can *not* be caught up in the rat race stress of competitive college admissions from a young age and still move on to extremely competitive grad schools and careers if that is their goal. And they can do it without having lost "a child's purpose is to be a child." 

I think I need to tape this post to my bathroom mirror. There is so much wisdom contained in it, which I feel [hope!] must come from the experience of raising many children (because, with the benefit of only two little boys, I can only dream of having this kind of parenting insight). Anyway, 8, thank you for taking the time to share all of this.

One thing I struggle with is the electronics. My DH and I are technophiles ourselves, so it is likely not surprising that our kids spend an inordinate amount of time on electronics (as do all of their friends). Even if I wanted to allow them the time to explore and be bored, by enforcing screen time restrictions, they would just end up playing video games at all of their friends' houses. How do you enforce this and create space for the kids to be bored? (Mine have zero tolerance for perceived boredom at present.) Mind you, we live in a very small space (the boat or RV), with no backyard of our own, in a very urban environment. 

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39 minutes ago, SeaConquest said:

One thing I struggle with is the electronics. My DH and I are technophiles ourselves, so it is likely not surprising that our kids spend an inordinate amount of time on electronics (as do all of their friends). Even if I wanted to allow them the time to explore and be bored, by enforcing screen time restrictions, they would just end up playing video games at all of their friends' houses. How do you enforce this and create space for the kids to be bored? (Mine have zero tolerance for perceived boredom at present.) Mind you, we live in a very small space (the boat or RV), with no backyard of our own, in a very urban environment. 

Ditto.   What I've heard is that you take the devices away and let them simply be bored.  After two weeks of incessant whining they figure out other things to do.  

As for going to their friends houses......  I guess mine don't have that option without me driving them, but.....at least they're socializing? sort of?

I've kinda of given in.  At this point, my oldest is watching a ton of youtube videos, half about videogames, half educational.  My middle actually spends a lot of time doing animation. My youngest whines horribly and then asks to help with the housework.  

The ban only lasts a couple of hours though.

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Reading b/c I have two musicians who started later than your son did. One of my dd's favorite Great Courses is this one

My child who majored in music was is a self-motivated go-getter. We didn't push, we just got out of her way. The other child still plays music for fun and for profit. We know a family who *requires* their children to double major in computer science and music. They have much more money to invest in high quality instruments and the best teachers and, you know, traveling all over the state to those best teachers.

My kids, who didn't have the priciest instruments or the best teachers, were in orchestras (yes, plural) with them. One of the orchestras is a community orchestra. Mine literally sat between a gastroentrologist and a school custodian. I love music. Once they're seated, tuned, and playing together, music is the great equalizer. 

My point, and it's fluff compared to Ruth's posts, and everyone else's posts, really, is that I hope music remains a passion or at least a hobby for your child. We grilled ds when he wanted to take his violin (not the best but still not cheap! We could have bought cars for what we paid for our kids' violins! In fact, my dd's bow cost more than DH's first car!) with him to college. "Why? You won't play it!" Turns out he did play and does play it for fun and for service as he plays at the church he attends near campus (mother's dream come true, but it was his idea) and he even got some cute coin at paid gigs around Christmas time. 

Bless you for you being on this journey. It's obvious that you only want what's best for your child and not to limit him. My wish is that he can do both going as high a level in one or both as he desires.

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4 hours ago, SeaConquest said:

I don't think I'd survive two weeks of incessant whining. Mama's got finals in 2 weeks! Lol.

Neither would I which is why they spend a lot of time on the TV. :( 

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17 hours ago, SeaConquest said:

One thing I struggle with is the electronics. My DH and I are technophiles ourselves, so it is likely not surprising that our kids spend an inordinate amount of time on electronics (as do all of their friends). Even if I wanted to allow them the time to explore and be bored, by enforcing screen time restrictions, they would just end up playing video games at all of their friends' houses. How do you enforce this and create space for the kids to be bored? (Mine have zero tolerance for perceived boredom at present.) Mind you, we live in a very small space (the boat or RV), with no backyard of our own, in a very urban environment. 

My kids have grown up this way.  None of them have ever played video games except the odd time at a friend's house (and all of them have complained when they got home that that is all they did) with the exception of our Aspie.  He does play, but even so, we didn't let him have an Xbox until he was 18. He has an addictive personality and he knows it, so he places firm limits on himself now about how long he'll let himself play.   TV they do watch, but it is with permission and limited in amt (unless they are sick in which case I let them lie on the sofa and watch tv.)

Your boat or RV scenario, that is not something I can relate to unless in a campground. (We used to have a travel trailer and camped a lot.) But, we are spoiled bc we have always lived in a big house with a great yard. My kids play outside for hrs.  They have plenty of room to play inside, too. My oldest was always building things. (He still does.  In the past yr, he has built an amazing outdoor brick oven grill, their dining room table and benches, a desk for his Dd, a dollhouse, and night stands. He and his siblings are adults who always have projects going on and goals of things they want to accomplish outside of their work lives.)  The other kids have spent hours in games they have created (traveling to Narnia via our playground, creating their own little city with businesses, designing jewelry/costumes.....). Their games can be so intricate that they develop them over months and they intertwine and become their own little worlds. Then, of course, there are (were) the Legos, Zome, Playmobil worlds that they spend (spent) hours building. (I remember my physicsgeek using Zome and spending hours contemplating different dimensions (as in 4th and 5th dimensions) and wondering how that would look and trying to create some semblance of that with his Zome.  And that was when he was a teenager!)

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5 hours ago, 8FillTheHeart said:

My kids have grown up this way.  None of them have ever played video games except the odd time at a friend's house (and all of them have complained when they got home that that is all they did) with the exception of our Aspie.  He does play, but even so, we didn't let him have an Xbox until he was 18. He has an addictive personality and he knows it, so he places firm limits on himself now about how long he'll let himself play.   TV they do watch, but it is with permission and limited in amt (unless they are sick in which case I let them lie on the sofa and watch tv.)

Your boat or RV scenario, that is not something I can relate to unless in a campground. (We used to have a travel trailer and camped a lot.) But, we are spoiled bc we have always lived in a big house with a great yard. My kids play outside for hrs.  They have plenty of room to play inside, too. My oldest was always building things. (He still does.  In the past yr, he has built an amazing outdoor brick oven grill, their dining room table and benches, a desk for his Dd, a dollhouse, and night stands. He and his siblings are adults who always have projects going on and goals of things they want to accomplish outside of their work lives.)  The other kids have spent hours in games they have created (traveling to Narnia via our playground, creating their own little city with businesses, designing jewelry/costumes.....). Their games can be so intricate that they develop them over months and they intertwine and become their own little worlds. Then, of course, there are (were) the Legos, Zome, Playmobil worlds that they spend (spent) hours building. (I remember my physicsgeek using Zome and spending hours contemplating different dimensions (as in 4th and 5th dimensions) and wondering how that would look and trying to create some semblance of that with his Zome.  And that was when he was a teenager!)

Apologies to the OP for derailing...

We do live in a campground from Sept-May, and then on the boat from June-August. The kids are at camp all day in the summer, so I don't care too much what they do after a full day of camp. The larger issue is the fact that all the other kids at the campground where we live play tons of video games. So, if I implemented screen limits at our house, they would just play them at the other kids' houses. We have a beach 50 feet from our door step, a playground, a skate park, basketball court, daily dodgeball put on by the campground (which my kids do go to), bikes, scooters, you name it, but the boys do still spend a lot of time gaming with friends while all of their toys/art supplies sit unused. And, I am not really sure what to do about it. :( 

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Gosh I'm jealous.  

Although my kids seem to be happy with their lot.  They have super-mega lego-land in the living room.  I'd like to kick them outside, but the setup isn't so great.....

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1 hour ago, SeaConquest said:

So, if I implemented screen limits at our house, they would just play them at the other kids' houses. We have a beach 50 feet from our door step, a playground, a skate park, basketball court, daily dodgeball put on by the campground (which my kids do go to), bikes, scooters, you name it, but the boys do still spend a lot of time gaming with friends while all of their toys/art supplies sit unused. And, I am not really sure what to do about it. :( 

I'm curious to understand this dynamic a bit more.  Our rule of thumb is that if it's off-limits at home, then it's also off-limits at other people's homes.  This would be particularly enforced if the main reason they were going to someone else's home is so that they can break our personal house rules. While I won't police them unduly and thus does rely somewhat on the honor system, the consequence of such an action is simply that they can't play at said friends' house for a period (they have to play outside or at our house instead). 

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37 minutes ago, 4KookieKids said:

I'm curious to understand this dynamic a bit more.  Our rule of thumb is that if it's off-limits at home, then it's also off-limits at other people's homes.  This would be particularly enforced if the main reason they were going to someone else's home is so that they can break our personal house rules. While I won't police them unduly and thus does rely somewhat on the honor system, the consequence of such an action is simply that they can't play at said friends' house for a period (they have to play outside or at our house instead). 

There are a group of kids that live at our campground for 9 months out of the year (everyone leaves in the summer because they only offer daily rates). My boys (ages 9 and almost 5) hang out with all the other kids at the campground. It is an enclosed campground, so I basically let the boys free range here, provided that they stick together (so the little one isn't wandering around alone). We bought the RV and moved here specifically so that the boys would have all of this outdoor space (which they didn't have at our old place on a busy urban street up the road). They do play a lot outside with their friends here, but the boys also spend a lot of time playing video games with said friends. So, if I limit screens at our house, I would also have to limit it at other people's houses, which would cut them off from what the rest of the kids are doing. My boys are both very social, so they would be isolated from the rest of the kids if I did that. So, I have taken a mostly hands-off approach re screens, but do kick them outside if I feel like they've been inside too much. Afterall, we moved here expressly so that they could play outside.

I guess, I am just envious of parents whose kids willingly do all of this exploration in their free time. My kids do some of that, but they, along with all of their friends, also spend a lot of time on screens.And, I would hate to cut them off from their friends by enforcing more strict screen-time rules. These are not introverted kids; they would be devastated if I isolated them from the other boys here.   

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8 minutes ago, SeaConquest said:

There are a group of kids that live at our campground for 9 months out of the year (everyone leaves in the summer because they only offer daily rates). My boys (ages 9 and almost 5) hang out with all the other kids at the campground. It is an enclosed campground, so I basically let the boys free range here, provided that they stick together (so the little one isn't wandering around alone). We bought the RV and moved here specifically so that the boys would have all of this outdoor space (which they didn't have at our old place on a busy urban street up the road). They do play a lot outside with their friends here, but the boys also spend a lot of time playing video games with said friends. So, if I limit screens at our house, I would also have to limit it at other people's houses, which would cut them off from what the rest of the kids are doing. My boys are both very social, so they would be isolated from the rest of the kids if I did that. So, I have taken a mostly hands-off approach re screens, but do kick them outside if I feel like they've been inside too much. Afterall, we moved here expressly so that they could play outside.

I guess, I am just envious of parents whose kids willingly do all of this exploration in their free time. My kids do some of that, but they, along with all of their friends, also spend a lot of time on screens.And, I would hate to cut them off from their friends by enforcing more strict screen-time rules. These are not introverted kids; they would be devastated if I isolated them from the other boys here.   

 Yeah, that does sound like a difficult dynamic!!

 

 I figured it had to be something, since our house rules seem so simple. But my kids don’t really have a tribe that they spend all their time with, and their best friends have parents Who feel similar to us with regards to screens, So we are lucky in that sense.  It is a lot easier to have rules like ours when the playtime with friends is more occasional  and a special treat.  I love the idea of a tribe of kids at a campground making up all sorts of adventurous fun for themselves, it does seem disappointing to have them choose video games when they have so many other opportunities and options! 

Best wishes in sorting through that issue!

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Better to have a social life than none at all.  But you might see if the other parents have the same frustration about their kids playing videogames all the time.  Hard to do anything about the parents that don't care, but if you are all on the same page, then you can band together and make rules.

PS:  One difficulty for me has been that having my kids socialize with each other can be worse than the videogames if they're fighting.  It's gotten better recently, but at some point it was easier to have them play videogames than hear the fights over why what one person did in the LEGO world wasn't ok and how someone wants their person alive again and how someone borrowed a LEGO in exchange for this other one and then the other person wants it back...... ugh.  it's hard to mediate arguments in a fantasy world.

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I don't know if it is as bad as I am making it out to be, but it is certainly not the idyllic childhood of self-exploration that 8 described.

This is an avg day for us (from today):

730 Wakeup/breakfast

8-9 Online G3 Paragraph Town class

9-10 Beast Academy Online

10-11 Athena's Chemistry class

11-12 Read for Athena's Lit and work on OG3 writing assignment

12-1 Grab lunch at In N Out/drive to PE class

1-2 Homeschool PE Class

2-3 Reads and watches language arts Brain Pop videos for OG3 class/drive to swim lesson

330-4 Swim lesson to qualify for summer lifeguard camp (two days per week -- on other days, he will go to dodgeball at the campground)

430-5 Takes the dog to the dog park (inside the campground) -- his one "chore"

5-dark Plays with the other kids at the campground  (outside or over video games -- I don't usually regulate it)

Dark Dinner

After dinner Watches Stampy Youtube videos, plays video or imaginary games with his brother, or we may all go to the jacuzzi/pool at the campground 

9pm Electronics off, reads until he falls asleep, usually around 10-11

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Maybe because he has so little unstructured time he uses it for electronics? It looks like he has three to four hours? I don't think that's terrible if he sometimes spends it all on electronics. Could the class times be moved to the evening so he has the morning free for outdoor play? 

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39 minutes ago, Sarah0000 said:

Maybe because he has so little unstructured time he uses it for electronics? It looks like he has three to four hours? I don't think that's terrible if he sometimes spends it all on electronics. Could the class times be moved to the evening so he has the morning free for outdoor play? 

No. All of his online classes are in the morning and then he usually has afternoon/evening for outdoor play. He doesn't do well with school later in the day.

Tuesdays and Thursdays are our heavy sports days this year. On Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, he doesn't have any structured activities in the afternoon. And no sports on the weekends either. Just his AoPS Academy class on Sunday afternoons.

Also, some of the kids that live at the campground go to the neighborhood school, and the rest that homeschool all do so in the mornings like us, so afternoons/evenings/weekends are really when the kids all go around looking for friends with which to play.  

ETA: He also has much more unstructured time than most of the public school kids in our area, who often have ECs and homework after school.

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8 hours ago, SeaConquest said:

 

I guess, I am just envious of parents whose kids willingly do all of this exploration in their free time. My kids do some of that, but they, along with all of their friends, also spend a lot of time on screens.And, I would hate to cut them off from their friends by enforcing more strict screen-time rules. These are not introverted kids; they would be devastated if I isolated them from the other boys here.   

It does sound like a difficult situation for you.  I got lucky because dd's homeschooled friends happened to be Waldorf-y, and as a consequence, low media.  I don't consider myself Waldorf-y except insofar as we're low media, minimal screen time.  Looking back, it was really nice to have homeschooled friends who had a similar philosophy that way when the kids were young.   My advice would have been to join a Waldorf homeschool group!  

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