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tell me about your philosophy of extracurricular activities


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So, my kiddos are still pretty young, but I'm starting to think about what sorts of extracurricular activities I think they should do. Ideally, I'd like for them to have one sport/physical activity and one art/music activity that they do for a while.

 

Now the question is, what sports? Which kind of artistic endeavour? Do we just flit from activity to activity, trying out a whole bunch before picking one? Do we, as parents and Benevolent Dictators, pick a narrow few and let them choose from those? What about competitive activities in which kids have to start young (like gymanastics)?

 

So far, here's what I have:

 

Swimming is a must. All kids must learn to swim.

 

All kids should try out a musical activity of some kind for at least a year. Singing (I know of a kids' choir), or playing the violin or piano.

 

I'd like for my dd to do either gymnastics or dance, but I'm afraid that it might be too competitive (moms of kids in those activities, please weigh in here!).

 

My husband wants to put our oldest in martial arts at some point. Since we live in VT, all kids will probably learn to ski.

 

*sigh* So many activities to choose from! I'm all about developing my kids' potential, but how will we know where their talents lie unless we try everything? What if they have a latent gift for dogsled racing? :P

 

Advice? Thoughts?

 

Thanks. :D

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My criteria:

 

Can we afford it? Sad but true.

 

Are classes in the afternoons? We don't do morning classes. Ever.

 

Will ever single weekend be sucked up? I can do *seasons* of weekends being sucked up, but not every.single.weekend. around the year.

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We've been dictators.

 

Piano and Judo. They are just part of school around here.

 

We don't do additional sports, and my boys have been fine with that. They've all done PE in various forms through different co-ops. Judo is family friendly (we all go to class at the same time) and our dojo is budget friendly.

 

My oldest wants to learn violin in addition to the piano, and we will allow/encourage that as he gets a bit older. He might have to do some self-teaching (we know some gifted violinists, so we can get some pointers), simply because of the cost. I would love for him to take lessons, but our budget doesn't really agree.

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My parents gave us parameters from which we were allowed to select our own extracurriculars. I always appreciated that (it seemed like I had some control, but also kept me in check because I had to compromise my desires with what would work with the family's schedule and budget) so I continued the tradition.

 

I insist on one team sport and one individual sport activity per calendar year. We're an athletic family, and sports are important to us. We are also a large, extended family so we have lots of support in this area. My son and his three cousins all play together, and we're able to divy up the associated responsibilities. We coach different teams/sports so we have some level of control over scheduling. Right now we have four boys - three play baseball, all four play recreational soccer, and three play select soccer (fall and spring seasons). My son also participates year-round in mixed martial arts for his individual sport activity.

 

My parents insisted on piano lessons. We were allowed to chose and play any additional instrument, if we desired. For third grade, I will begin my son on "music" - he has a choice between choir and piano, which I'll expect him to continue through grammar school. I will require (his choice of) the same or any other instrument through junior high.

 

I try to accommodate the kids interests in extracurriculars, but I'm biased (I was a Rec major) and think that these things are just as important (if not more, at a young age) as are academics. There are times I have to say no, or "not right now" ... (my son wanted to do acting classes but we're knee-deep in soccer and baseball seasons right now) but for the most part I'm happy to reach a compromise about how/what/when the kids can do the things that they are interested in. I also expect them to honor commitments, and to help pay for them (if not with actual money, then by helping out around the house so I'm able to chauffeur).

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Our children have done swimming since they were very young. Like you it was a must.

 

Other than that we waited until they asked us to do something. I think I may have initiated getting my son into scouts when he was 6. My dd was in Girl Scouts at age 5 but that only lasted a year.

 

We had a long period of time when they did very little. I am glad for that now because their activities have exploded in the past 2 years. My son and one of the twins play hockey. This is not inexpensive, and it requires quite a commitment to practices and games. My oldest dd started riding horses 18 months ago at age 11.5. She has really taken off and is now leasing a horse and preparing for show. My other twin is in 4-H.

 

I would just encourage keeping your involvements at this point in your life low key unless you see some amazing talent that must be explored. I am very glad for the years that we had limited activites now that my time taken up by their involvements.

 

Best wishes,

Jennie

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A musical instrument is required here, and since we have a piano and I know some piano, that is our chosen one for the early years. They will be free to choose another or additional insturment later when they are old enough/responsible enough to practice on their own.

 

Becoming a proficient swiommer was also a requirement - both boys are there now, and because our club has an excellent junior swim team (excellent in terms of both instruction and positive attitude), we have encouraged them to do that, more for consistent physical exercise than competition.

 

The oldest is a Cub Scout and little brother will be one next year. We like the values promoted and they love the outdoor/non-competitive element.

 

The above are my DH's and my requirements and we consider them part of school. In addition, the boys can request other activities - YMCA summer soccer or winter basketball, a science or art class - and we will accommodate their request if it fits our family's schedule, which it often does. We have avoided the club soccer, though, because that quickly becomes an all-consuming thing in this area of the country.

 

It sounds like a lot - before I had school-age kiddos, I thought I would be in the "one activity at a time" camp - but since they don't have to go off to school for 7 hours, it has been quite easy to do with plenty of time for free play still.

 

The choices are definitely overwhelming, though!

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Piano is the best instrument to start with, it teaches both cleffs at once. I started with trumpet before piano, I wish I had started with piano, bass cleff is still hard for me to read. (I just started piano lessons for my daughter! We got an instructor here, I may teach her myself when we move to California if the prices there are too high, we'll see.)

 

Gymnastics is a good foundational sport if you do it for at least 3 or 4 years and get a good solid foundation. After doing gymnastics, I was able to do well in most sports, it teaches good body control. It really transitioned well to Judo, it gave me a great ability to flip around to my stomach when being thrown, so I would generally not receive a penalty score (or only a small one) even when someone managed to throw me. It's best to get a good teacher from the get go, you don't want to learn bad habits. Find someone who did some gymnastics to evaluate your prospective teachers. (I started out with some poor teachers and survived, but it's best to start with good habits. I was taught only good habits from the beginning in Judo and progressed rapidly.)

 

I wish I had had some art classes, my stick figures are pitiful. When my son is a bit older, I'd like to take a community class with my children and all learn together. (Or maybe next year just me and my daughter, depending on my husband's schedule. She already draws better than me.)

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I had more spending money when my kids were younger. So, I let them try most things if I could handle the driving.

 

We require swimming lessons year round until they swim, then summer swim team until age 12. They can continue summer team after that if they wish. If they wish and it's in the budget, they can do club swimming--but club swimming must be entirely their choice.

 

Beyond swimming my dc must be in a physical activity year round. My oldest ds has muscle and coordination problems. He got to pick the sport each season. He tried a new sport just about every season. At age 10, he start TKD.

 

Any activity beyond recreation level must be the child's choice.

 

A year or two of a musical instrument. Unless the child is begging, I don't recommend this before age 8.

 

Art lessons are nice, if you find a good instructor, can afford the classes and can fit them in the schedule.

 

I have had years when I was willing to drive my dc all over. So, my dd tried many activities. My only requirement is that if a child requests the activity and I agree (and pay) the child must finish the season or some required period. In the case of recreational soccer the time commitment is about 2 days/week for 10 weeks. Now, my dd is very serious about ballet--she has to commit to a full year every September. So, I remind her before I write the check I expect her to stick with it for the year.

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With multiple kids it gets hard to do a lot of activities. I like to keep it simple for younger ones.

 

Swimming is wonderful in the summer. We have to do ours in the winter, due to no pool in the area - the swim teacher rents a local motel pool (off season) for a few days a week. But if you can do it in the summer, by all means, do.

 

Dance for girls is very cute and fun when they are young (3-4-5-6-7 yr olds). But as they grow up it gets competitive, expensive, and travel-intensive. Some of the boys I've seen in dance did very well; some looked absolutely miserable.

 

Gymnastics, if done for fun and not competitively, is great for younger kids. When they start to get older, same problems as dance.

 

Kindermusik is a program I'd recommend if you have someone teaching classes in your area. As for starting to learn an instrument, I'd wait until about 4th grade. I guess it depends on the instrument - if you have access to a Suzuki violin class they start very young. We've never done that, though. My oldest dd plays flute -- it's hard to play before 4th or 5th grade because of the size of the instrument.

 

Martial arts is something that I recommend to everyone. My kids have done Tae Kwon Do and Aikido. I actually prefer TKD. Age to start would depend on the instructor and class setup - try to observe classes before making a decision.

 

It's easy to get overwhelmed in the early years. You have to determine your limit. Sometimes we would get too involved in classes and regret it - so much running around is disruptive and tiring. There is real value in being able to relax at home. I did a lot more with my oldest dd but it was as if she was an only child; her sisters did not appear on the scene until years later.

 

Hope this helps.

 

Dana

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Let's see...

 

my oldest (now 16) - he was 6 when we met (he's my stepson) and at that age he started asking for karate lessons. It wasn't until 2 years later that we signed him and his younger brother. They both earned their black belt attending classes three times per week. He is not athletic and other than playing baseball for his small private school for one year he has no interest in athletics. He does do youth group, works and drama club. When he was homescdhooled he took a PE type program from a local athletic club and really enjoyed it. It was a great exposure to different activities without the pressure of having to be athletic. He ha s been drawing all sorts of comic book figures since he was 6 so he's very artistic. He took homeschool art classes, too.

 

dss13 -- was in karate with his older brother but didn't really love it. His first activity was gymnastics where he took a couple of rec classes. He was always athletic so he enjoyed them. At some point his passion turned to football but his mom (and dh & I) enforced the rule that he had to get his blackbelt before he could start football. So, around 10 or so he started football and still loves it. He's going to a public school in the fall with a big football team and he can't wait. He isn't artistic nor musical. Attempts at forcing an instrument didn't go over well -- we gave up :)

 

dd8 -- we started gymnastics around 3.5 years old. At 5 we tried soccer and since she's athletic the coach saw her potential but she didn't really like it. We went back to gymnastics and now she's about ready to move up to competition level. This is her passion and since last year she hasn't missed a single class. Not musical or artistic. Learning the recorder in public school, though so she can read music.

 

dd6 -- took gymnastics but around 4 started asking for art lessons. Now, she takes art and really enjoys it. She isn't athletic like her older sister and brother. She likes to swim in the pool a lot so after some swim lessons we'll consider signing her up for swim team but only if she's interested.

 

ds3 -- no sports or activities yet but since he's very shy and has delayed speech we haven't been in a hurry. We'll probably start with gymnastics for a few sessions and then maybe see what he shows interest in when he's 6.

 

I like our gymnastics program because it is very inexpensive with fantastic coaching. I would like to do swim lessons but compared to the gymanstics it is more expensive so I've held off. I definitely want all of my kids to be able to do more than just play in the water.

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Our philosophy....

 

Everyone under the age of 10 must take piano. Piano is a part of school, and is not considered an extracurricular activity.

 

Everyone over the age of 5 must participate in some kind of physical activity. We've just found ahomeschool family karate class, which should cut down on some of the back-and-forth, as we can all participate.

 

And, we must have some kind of balance. This year with five children in different activities AND volunteer hours/spring recitals/concerts/play performances/art show/choir tours....it's a bit much. We cannot possible take advantage of every possible opportunity. I am learning that this year.

 

About gymnastics: My children have been taking recreational gymnastics since they were toddlers, and my niece was a competitive gymnast for several years. A good gym will have a fun recreational program for young children, with an emphasis on individual progress, fun and physical confidence rather than competition. I would absolutely consider putting a young boy or girl into recreational gymnastics, just for fun. You'll know if the time is right (or not) to pursue competitive gymnastics, but there are a few years before you get to that point.

 

Cat

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There is usually a breaking point and it usually takes me some trial and error to find the point where we are enjoying our schedule and not slaves to it. I try to limit classes that require a year-long commitment and that gives me room to tweak our schedule. I also have tried to limit, so far, activities that require multiple time commitments each week. I schedule, as much as possible, both girls at the same time or back-to-back.

 

Soccer--We found a place that does a once a week clinic/scrimmage combo. Great way to try it out without getting into 2 practices and a game each week. This is EXCELLENT cardio exercise. They run and they run and they run.....

 

Homeschool Choir--great intro to music. No need to practice during the week, except singing along to concert songs to learn them. We'll wait a bit before picking up an instrument, formally. She wants to learn the recorder and I play piano, so we play around with them.

 

We do dance and gymnastics. Our dance studio is heavily competitive, but you don't have to go that route. We aren't. They offer many class choices for kids that aren't on the competition teams. And some of their ballet students (not competitive) go to some prestigious summer intensives. So, we stay there.

 

Our gymnastics place is competitive, but not elite. My oldest dd is moving out of the preschool side and into level one, next year. She will still be able to take once a week for an hour. Their highest level of gymnast practices 3 or 4 times a week for 3 hours. Sounds like a lot, but not compared to Olympic hopefuls...and by that point they would know they loved it and wanted to commit to ONLY that.

 

We also do Awana.

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I highly recommend Musikgarten and The Little Gym for young ones. If you can take Musikgarten classes all the way through their group piano classes (they go up to age 9 or 10), your child will be sight-singing and absolutely ready for any instrument. I don't know if Little Gym programs vary in quality, but my dd's have really awesome teachers. Very research based and purposeful and lots of fun. I love how they provide so many different sensory experiences... it's like OT disguised as gymnastics. :)

 

About gymnastics and competition: After 1 semester in gymnastics classes, my now-almost-four-year-old moved up to their little performance group, which is very low-key, or I wouldn't have moved her up. She has one teacher in particular who is always looking to challenge her, but knows how to do it in a very fun, non-threatening way (my dd is pretty sensitive). She has a blast and is learning incredibly quickly... to the point that she is one of the best in the class and yet the youngest by 1-2 years. It's starting to make me nervous. What do I do if she outgrows this class? There's no where else to go for her age. I really want to wait a few years before I even consider competitive gymnastics for her (which is why I've avoided a competitive gym). Does anyone who has gone this route have any advice?

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I look at cost, the child's overall attitude, what their desires are, and how prepared I am to be in various places. For example, this year dd has had almost no extra curric's because last year she fought with me EVERY time we had to leave for one. So rather than her normal routine of extra curric's it has been drastically reduced. With 4 kids some seasons mean going non-stop and others like this year are much slower. Next year will be a busy year, with some activities they always do, some they are returning to, and some new ones. Here is the line up for next year:

 

Austin: Cadets, Basketball, swimming, guitar, drama, homeschool band, fencing, Archery, baseball, track & field and lastly gymnastics, wrestling is also a possibility but it depends on how the rest of our schedule plays out

 

Ceilidh: AWANA, swimming, basketball, drama, violin, piano, choir, baseball, track & field, gymnastics, and hip hop

 

Hunter: swimming, gymnastics, soccer, piano, art and AWANA

 

Isabelle: swimming and gymnastics

 

I like the kids to participate in as much as possible, keeping them busy in organized activities keeps them meeting new people, working together on teams,and keeps them out of trouble. All my kids have taken gymnastics in the past, we took this year off but next year we are returning. NOne of mine have been in competitive gymnastics, they just do the recreational level and really enjoy it. I even started the baby at age 6 months in babynastics and now at 18 months she still climbs, jumps, somersaults etc everywhere so I am putting her back into a tots class in the fall before she breaks something. We have been lucky that we have a fine arts program in our city designed for lower income families, so my kids get private music lessons, drama, dance and art for free.

 

In the past we have tried other activities like rock climbing for a semester, next year the basketball, fencing and archery are all new activities they want to try out. Basketball runs for the fall/winter season, and I found homeschool archery and fencing clubs that run in 6 week sessions. I think trying many different kinds of activities is great if you can separate them to prevent you from burning out.

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Gymnastics is a good foundational sport if you do it for at least 3 or 4 years and get a good solid foundation. After doing gymnastics, I was able to do well in most sports, it teaches good body control. It really transitioned well to Judo, it gave me a great ability to flip around to my stomach when being thrown, so I would generally not receive a penalty score (or only a small one) even when someone managed to throw me. It's best to get a good teacher from the get go, you don't want to learn bad habits. Find someone who did some gymnastics to evaluate your prospective teachers. (I started out with some poor teachers and survived, but it's best to start with good habits. I was taught only good habits from the beginning in Judo and progressed rapidly.)

 

That is true. A friend's son, who has been active in gymnastics for years, recently started coming to Judo. He's been to maybe 6 classes, and did a local tournament. He couldn't really get any throws (kind of hard when you only know a small handful), but his opponents could not throw him. If they managed to throw him, he would always land on his belly. It was beautiful to watch!

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My kids are little like yours. With my 5 yr old I've had him try lots of different things. At first I just signed him up for classes I thought he'd like. Then after it was over I'd give him the choice of doing it the next session or trying something else. He usually wants to "take a break" and do something different. But now he's gotten to the point where he's starting to ask to go back and do things he's done before and he has more of an opinion about what he wants to do. For example, he took gymnastics last fall and then took a break for a session and now asked to do it again. My approach has been that once he signs up he has to finish that class but I never force him to continue for another session.

 

In this area there's a lot of pressure to get the kids involved in one sport early. It would be easy to focus on one area and a lot of people do that in order to try to get the kids "competitive". My thought is that it's better for his body and more fun for him to do different things. If he found something he loved and wanted to focus on that, I'd be fine with that if it was his choice. But at his age I'm more going with the exposure to lots of different things approach.

 

The only thing I've really required is swimming, like others mentioned. I think it's important to be able to swim well. Both my kids love to swim though so it hasn't been an issue.

 

I plan to require music also. My plan is to start with piano (probably in 2nd grade) and then possibly add or let them switch to another instrument when they are older. A huge gap in my own education is music and I'd like them to at least have some foundation there. I see music though as being part of school and not purely extracurricular.

 

I also think that it's a good idea to have them always involved in one sport. Doesn't have to be a team sport but I think that it's good to have that physical activity. So I guess I'll "require" that but allow a lot of choice about what that is.

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>>>>What do I do if she outgrows this class? There's no where else to go for her age. I really want to wait a few years before I even consider competitive gymnastics for her (which is why I've avoided a competitive gym). Does anyone who has gone this route have any advice?>>>>>

 

You need to find out about what the next level program is like and if you are willing to commit (financially and have the time) to that program. If you are then you can try it and if you like it stick with it or pull out if you don't.

 

That's kind of the attitude I'm taking with my daughter. Our team is a rec program with a competitive team so we get great facilities, low cost coaching and great coaches. Our team doesn't start competing until Level 4 which is nice because they get the benefit of lots of practice without the costs of competition (including meet fees and travel fees). So, when my daughter moved from rec to level 1 I found out the information about that level and we tried it. When she got invited to move up to Level 2 (5 months later -- normally a full year) I found out the practice requirements and financial costs and figured we could do that so we moved up. She moved up to Level 3 5 months later (again, normally 1 year) and we determined she could do that. So, we did. The coach has told me she's moving up again (only 8 of 26 girls so far) and I'm going to commit to competition for the next level.

 

I guess my experience has been that I don't have to commit to long-term competitive gym but I can make the decision year by year. I really like that our gym delays competition because if that had come sooner I wouldn't have been able to afford it.

 

My criteria for my daughter attending this program are number one that she wants to do it and this hasn't been a problem at all. She hasn't missed a class since early Level 2, worries if she starts feeling a little bad because she might miss class and isn't too tired to do anything else. As a matter of fact yesterday she was out playing with friends -- teaching them gymnastics.

 

Good luck. We're having a great time with it.

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So, my kiddos are still pretty young, but I'm starting to think about what sorts of extracurricular activities I think they should do. Ideally, I'd like for them to have one sport/physical activity and one art/music activity that they do for a while.

 

Now the question is, what sports? Which kind of artistic endeavour? Do we just flit from activity to activity, trying out a whole bunch before picking one? Do we, as parents and Benevolent Dictators, pick a narrow few and let them choose from those? What about competitive activities in which kids have to start young (like gymanastics)?

 

So far, here's what I have:

 

Swimming is a must. All kids must learn to swim.

 

All kids should try out a musical activity of some kind for at least a year. Singing (I know of a kids' choir), or playing the violin or piano.

 

I'd like for my dd to do either gymnastics or dance, but I'm afraid that it might be too competitive (moms of kids in those activities, please weigh in here!).

 

My husband wants to put our oldest in martial arts at some point. Since we live in VT, all kids will probably learn to ski.

 

*sigh* So many activities to choose from! I'm all about developing my kids' potential, but how will we know where their talents lie unless we try everything? What if they have a latent gift for dogsled racing? :P

 

Advice? Thoughts?

 

Thanks. :D

 

Well, I'm not sure I have a philosophy, but what we have done is:

1) Music in our home is considered part of school, so all three had to take piano for 3 years before being allowed to either switch to another instrument or drop instrument lessons at all.

2) All of my children learned how to swim and ride bikes and hike early, but I don't know if I ever thought of it as a requirement, it just seemed a natural part of having very active children.

3) My children were also learning basic outdoor/survival skills at an early age, this IS important to me.

4) Church and church related activities are a given in our house

 

For all other activities, we've let the child lead, taking finances and family and personal time commitment into consideration. We usually only allow one sport per kid at a time.

Right now all three are in a homeschool drama class, and ds is a Boy Scout.

He played basketball this past winter, and last fall oldest did cross country.

Middle dd wants to play volleyball and will finally be old enough this fall, and oldest wants to switch to track, so this next year may fall out nicely with one in the fall, one in the winter and one in the spring.

I know it will get harder to balance things as they get older. We already have to balance everything with music lessons and homeschool activities, and as my oldest moves into highschool level, she also wants to add volunteer work and a part time job and she is going to add a second instrument lesson to mix! Should be fun :)

Edited by JustGin
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We've been dictators.

 

Piano and Judo. They are just part of school around here.

 

We don't do additional sports, and my boys have been fine with that. They've all done PE in various forms through different co-ops. Judo is family friendly (we all go to class at the same time) and our dojo is budget friendly.

 

My oldest wants to learn violin in addition to the piano, and we will allow/encourage that as he gets a bit older. He might have to do some self-teaching (we know some gifted violinists, so we can get some pointers), simply because of the cost. I would love for him to take lessons, but our budget doesn't really agree.

 

Boy can I relate to the budget thing! All three of my kids have music lessons. Recently, my 13 yo, who plays the piano, asked if she could add cello lessons and I simply can not afford a fourth lesson. We decided that if she could find a way to pay for the extra lessons, we would pick up the cost of the instrument rental. Well, she is an awesome babysitter, and God opened up a once a week, full day, mother's helper position for her that will exactly pay for her lessons! We are very excited. All this to say, it's not necessarily a bad thing to not be able to afford it all. :)

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As others have said piano is considered a part of school and, therefore, not negotiable and not considered extracurricular. I'm teaching my kids, so that cuts down on cost.

 

Eldest son (almost 8) is in TKD and loving it. He has 3-4 classes per week for an hour each. He may join the Cathedral boy's choir in August or September.

 

Eldest daughter (almost 6) is on again-off again about taking TKD (she hasn't actually started classes because of this). I'm not pushing her right now to join anything, but may encourage her to try fencing when she is a bit older/stronger as I think she would really enjoy it.

 

Dd4 and ds2 are not yet old enough, imo, to have any outside activities.

 

Underlying all of this are financial considerations. If we can't afford something (and everything we're currently doing is not very expensive at all), the kids can't do it.

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But with only one kid, so the logistics are easier! But I do the same thing -- one physical activity and one creative activity. And I have always let him "flit". Especially early on, I think it's more important that a) he has some kind of activity and b) he's familiar with several options, rather than that he is on a competitive track with any one.

 

Not that I'd discourage him if he were leaning that way himself... One of his friends is on a competitive gymnastic team and another is on a traveling baseball team, and both of them are thriving -- in each case it was a talent and an interest that showed itself early and their parents let them pursue it as far as they wanted. DS, on the other hand, generally does a year of one thing and then switches (except flute - he's been committed to his instrument choice from the start!).... swim team about every third year, tap dance for a while and then rock climbing and tennis... I don't see him doing any of those seriously - just enough to have fun. (Except flute again.)

 

The only thing I absolutely required was swimming, until he was a strong enough swimmer to pass swimming tests. That's just a safety issue. I don't care if he ever learns the butterfly, but we have a neighborhood pool and he was going to be spending most of every summer there. He's not fast enough to be really competitive, but he can enjoy the pool or go out fishing without worry.

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Our philosophy....

 

 

About gymnastics: My children have been taking recreational gymnastics since they were toddlers, and my niece was a competitive gymnast for several years. A good gym will have a fun recreational program for young children, with an emphasis on individual progress, fun and physical confidence rather than competition. I would absolutely consider putting a young boy or girl into recreational gymnastics, just for fun. You'll know if the time is right (or not) to pursue competitive gymnastics, but there are a few years before you get to that point.

 

Cat

 

Cat,

 

My kids took gymnastics this winter and really enjoyed it. My son's ready to move on to swim lessons, my daughter will do one more session before also moving on to swim lessons in the summer. I really like the gym they took lessons at. It's great for recreation for little kids, not sure how they are for when they get older. At any rate, it's the only gym I know of within comfortable driving distance.

 

How do I judge the quality of a gym for competitive levels? They certainly seem to have a lot of trophies displayed... :P

 

~Rabia

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We do dance and gymnastics. Our dance studio is heavily competitive, but you don't have to go that route. We aren't. They offer many class choices for kids that aren't on the competition teams. And some of their ballet students (not competitive) go to some prestigious summer intensives. So, we stay there.

 

Our gymnastics place is competitive, but not elite. My oldest dd is moving out of the preschool side and into level one, next year. She will still be able to take once a week for an hour. Their highest level of gymnast practices 3 or 4 times a week for 3 hours. Sounds like a lot, but not compared to Olympic hopefuls...and by that point they would know they loved it and wanted to commit to ONLY that.

 

 

Erica,

 

So, you don't find doing both gymnastics and dance overkill for your girls? In my mind, it was an either/or decision. :D

 

In the fall, I think we'll try doing both and go from there.

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Piano is non-negotiable (and thankfully ds loves it, the younger ds will probably start this year).

 

They each can choose an additional extra-curr. activity but it cannot be out of our budget range (I am not willing to go into debt for a hobby) and it cannot take over our lives (I will not spend every night of my life in a gym or hockey rink or whatever...everything in moderation).

 

The boys know that our family time and our faith comes first so they cannot be in activities that would cause them to miss church on a regular basis or that would keep our family apart on a regular basis.

 

As of right now, piano is one hour a week (practice is at home where the family can enjoy it). They both take karate (two hours per week). I can live with that. :D

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My philosophy is the more the merrier IF they can handle ds's special needs and if it fits our schedule. I can't take my oldest out much so any activity has to fit into his day. When we first started hsing my goal was 10 hrs/week of group activities for ds. We've almost always managed to log the hours and as he's gotten older, it's becoming easier for him to participate in classes. I'll sign dd up for anything she'd like to try, but she does have to fulfill the commitment. As a result, we spend a lot of time in the car listening to books on tape

 

:auto::auto::auto:

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My kids pick what they want to do (if we can afford it. I do make a real effort to make that happen). I don't have any particular thing I want or don't want them to do.

 

We usually do one extra-curricular activity (per kid) per season. Just because I can't handle getting them to more than that, and my husband usually works too late to help.

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Thanks, everyone, for your input!

 

Since my kids are little, we'll focus on swimming and gym/dance, plus some form of music lessons for the oldest when he turns 5. We have a Suzuki strings school in the area (meaning 30 minutes away--all their activities are going to be 30 minutes away, *sigh*) and I've talked up violin to him enough that he says he'd rather do that than piano. :D

 

Besides, they can always take up dogsled racing on their own dime (and in their own time) when they're grownup. :D

 

~Rabia

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Erica,

 

So, you don't find doing both gymnastics and dance overkill for your girls? In my mind, it was an either/or decision.

 

In the fall, I think we'll try doing both and go from there.

 

 

Both girls go to gymnastics at the same time and I work out on a treadmill in a parent fitness room. Dance has a gap in between, but we go to the library or the park. So, it's all easier on the schedule than it sounds.

 

I scheduled them on different days, just to spread out the benefits....since there are similarities. I find the gymnastics has offered more benefits for upper-body and tumbling and the dance has offered more benefits for grace and lower body. Both are good for flexibility and overall fitness. I even consider dance a small amount of music appreciation, since they have to be very aware of the music beat and the dances "interpret" the music.

 

At the point where either activity bumps up to more times a week, they will have to make a choice between them. But, then....what if each chooses something different??? I'll worry about that bridge when we get to it.

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Here a martial art is a non-negotiable part of school. We are using taekwondo because we're in our global nomad phase of life and TKD is found all over the world (although we still end up starting over in every new school), has a sport emphasis and is friendly toward even young kids. At some point we may move them into a more self-defense orriented art (combat hapkido is a family favorite, but not one we would put kids into). TKD has helped the kids with self discipline, performing to standards even when they are hard, and body awareness (it especially helps my fast growing sons remember where the ends of their hands and feet are). I happen to have three sons, but would put even a daughter into the schools we've been a part of.

 

We really like scouting, despite the hiccups that we've had with individuals here and there along the way. DH is an Eagle scout and we'll stay with scouts unless the boys develop an absolute hatred for it.

 

Other than that, we've pretty much gone with what is available, interesting and cool. This has usually been short time stuff like sports adventure camps (outdoor adventure, mountain biking, sailing, currently climbing and golf). Climbing things is a passion for my oldest, so the climbing classes he's taking now are a real dream for him. I'd love to be able to engage other passions like insects, drawing and reading.

 

We did Awana for a couple years but I think that is a fun extra, not an essential.

 

I flinched away from the time committment of sports teams early on and now it seems a little like if you aren't in a sport by age 7 then you're over the hill in terms of being accepted as a beginning player. (But to be honest, we're not a team sport sort of family anyway. My kids have to ask if a sport on tv is football or basketball.)

 

FWIW, dh frequently mentions that he was about 9 when his parents started letting him attend local historical society meetings and that his brother was about 9 when my FIL started to take him to evening meetings of the local astronomy club. His youngest brother was even younger when MIL/FIL spent hours throwing him baseballs and sitting watching games. DH has a graduate degree in history and uses his passion for history and politics daily. My BIL has a PhD in astrophysics and has been on teams using neutrinos to detect distant non-visible stars. My youngest BIL never played baseball past highschool, but he's used the same physical skills and determination as a great firefighter. You never know where these youthful passions will take you.

 

One more BTW. Each of these three guys (dh and two BILs) also took dance with my MIL. Each of them developed something different from it. DH is extremely flexible and has used dance skills in martial arts. BIL 1 did dance through high school and was even an assistant teacher. He is a great teacher and has not only taught physics on the college level but even made me understand neutrinos (at least for a couple days). BIL 2 also developed great teaching skills (he has developed training programs for both of his fire departments) but also used the dancing strength and flexibility as a baseball catcher.

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We also require all of our kids to learn to swim. We start the kids in activities at age 3. They try out several things and then pick what they like. We put them in Kindermusik at 3 and they continue that through 5 when they switch to a class that teaches them about different instruments and basic rhythm and how to read music. They must try at least one sport and try art.

 

My DD did all of the music that we require and then stopped, tried soccer and tennis and those were not for her, but she has stuck with art and she wants to take horse riding lessons this year.

 

My DS5 is all about soccer and he will do music through 1st grade.

 

My DS3 loves gymnastics and Kindermusik.

 

We found a place that does gymnastics competitively, but they do have a class for kids that just want to have fun and learn how to do cartwheels and rolls and such.

 

They also do things through our co-op and summer camps. Summer is a great time to let them try things out, because most classes are only a week long so they can do many different things in a couple of months before deciding what they like.

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