Thursday, October 21, 2010

Choosing Kids' Activities

Something about standing in the shower makes me think. Maybe it's the fact that I really can't multi-task in there. LOL So, the other day, I was mulling something over in the shower.

I was wondering why parents give their kids so much choice over their activities. I don't intend to offend anyone here, so please reserve your judgment.

My kids don't get much choice over their extracurricular activities, nor over their curriculum - at least not in cases where I have a strong opinion. I know many families handle this differently, but for us? I feel that we as parents have the better perspective, including the wisdom to look back over our own choices and see where we might have chosen better. We also understand our schedules, our wallets, and our willingness (or non-willingness, as the case may be) to drive all over the county (or even the state!).

I don't have the sort of kids who want to sign up for everything. In fact, if I didn't sign them up for sports, art class, field trips, camp, etc..., then probably they'd just sit home. That's not acceptable to me. I want them to have cultural experiences, to be active, to make friends, to learn about the world.

As an example, probably only one, maybe two, of my kids would choose to play soccer if left to their own devices. But all 4 are playing this year. All have played soccer most years since they were five or six. The years they did not play, we ended up regretting the choice. Soccer works well for us, but it might not be the best choice for your family. My point is not to go sign your kids up for soccer, but find what works for your family and insist upon it.

This fall I've signed three of my kids up for gymnastics without even asking them. I want them to do something active over the winter since they won't have soccer to keep them moving and our climate is not conducive to a lot of outdoor activities from December through February (or more!). Other things we've tried over the winter haven't worked well for us, but I have high hopes for this. Anyway, my point is - I made the choice. They were not consulted.

At some point, kids must learn to manage their own time, desires, and money. I offer my older children a little more autonomy, as long as acceptable alternatives are explored. For instance, David chose not to do our monthly art class anymore. I required him to continue to explore artistic concepts on his own and he has. However, he also requested not to play soccer several years ago, so I gave him an alternative - be sure to include physical activity in your schedule two or three times a week in good weather. Just like soccer would require, you know? Did he do this? No, he did not. So he ended up back in soccer.

Some of you may be thinking - that wouldn't work for us. The kids wouldn't do it. Well, mine aren't usually happy about the idea either. Oh well. An opportunity for attitude adjustments.

They'll thank me later. Right?


~Byn There said...

I agree that for the most part since we as parents are providing the finances and transportation extra activities are non-negotiable. When I homeschooled and still today I require everyone be involved in some sort of physical activity/sport be it team or individual and that they have some experience with music as a participant, you know, beyond the iPod. Even if it isn't "their thing" for the long haul they need to try it for a couple years. The expect is when a kid adamently prompts the involvment, such as my Ben so eagerly wanting to raise a pig. Being in a 4H club isn't really at the top of my list but I know its a great experience so I'm conceding BUT once we're in there's no turning back he'll have to see it through at least for the year. If next he doesn't want to do it again that's fine. But you must fulfill the commitment. I really wish I would have pushed Alex to continue with vioin and not let her drop it so soon but it became a pick-your-battle situation. ...just sayin'

~Byn There said...

Woops, that s/b "The exception is..." should have edited before I hit publish! :)

Lisa said...

Thanks for the reply, Robyn. Yes, I think following up on kids' specific interests is very important! When mine show them (which is not as often as I'd prefer), I do try to do that if the cost and inconvenience are not a detriment.

Wee Pip said...

G & I like how you do sports at your house. Most years we try to implement that idea. Although, I really have to kick myself in the rear some years to motivate myself to sign us up. (Especially soccer...brrrr....)