Allowing kids to just be kids: Limiting their extracurricular activities

School, homework and just normal play time takes up a great amount of time but I still like for the kids to have an organized activity such as a sport or music class to join.

I try to keep their extra activities to just one each for a couple of reasons. First, I don’t want to spend my time chauffeuring them around every day. Second, I don’t believe in over scheduling their time. No one needs an extra activity every day of the week. I want them to be able to just play with their friends too or read a book or just do nothing. They don’t need every minute of their day scheduled.

I don’t dictate what activities they join but the only stipulation is that once they start something, they must continue through that season/session. If after that they don’t want to continue, then they are free to stop and pick a new activity. And of course, they don’t have to do an activity, but I want to encourage them to try new things.

Lexie has had way fewer opportunities to do organized activities. I think that is because we found out many of them didn’t work for Jase at such a young age. But now that she is about to turn 5 (in just two months) we signed her up for dance class last week. Lexie has always liked to jump and twirl around the room. She also likes to tumble so we debated between dance or gymnastics. Then I found the perfect class – it is a combination ballet, tap and gymnastics class. They spend 30 minutes on dance and 30 minutes on gymnastics. I also like that the class is centered around having fun rather than preparing for a recital at the end of the session.  (No expensive outfit that she will only wear once.)

IMG_0481Lexie has also expressed an interest in karate and soccer – two sports that Jase has already done. In fact, tomorrow Jase will resume karate where he currently is a green belt.

Jase at age 4 did basketball, which consisted of him mainly standing around looking lost. That summer he started swimming lessons but after a year of lessons I didn’t feel he had advanced as much as he should and discontinued them. Lexie would like swimming lessons but after all the money spent on Jase, it has soured me to using that swim studio, and I have yet to find another one that I like.

Jase also took a sports trial class at age 5 where they spent each class on a different sport. That Fall he began a two-year music program which Lexie has expressed a desire to take too. (You have to be 5 to start so she would start in August if she is still interested.) Jase also did soccer that Spring along with the music class. It is the only time he has had two activities.

I have noticed that Jase does best with individual sports like karate, which he began last January. With both soccer and basketball, he seemed lost and a little timid. I get the feeling that he really isn’t into sports but last year he asked for karate and seems to enjoy it.

So for this semester we have our activities. I will strive to keep their activities to just one each but definitely no more than two and that is something I know I will be able to enforce because after all kids need time to just be kids.