Still trying to limit my kids’ extra curricular activities

When my kids first started school, my goal was to not have them over scheduled with activities. In fact in January 2013, I wrote a post about keeping their activities to one extra-curricular activity per child.

Well, now that they are older (Lexie is 9 and Jase is 12), it has proven to be too hard to keep that one activity goal.

Jase receiving his second degree red belt in May 2017.

It all started last year when Jase was in fifth grade. He wanted to return to soccer, but he was still taking karate (which he began in kindergarten). Ok, I thought. Two activities were fine. Then during the first month of school, the middle school orchestra came to perform as a method of recruiting members. He wanted to do strings which was free (except for the violin rental.) So he ended up with three activities.

At that time, Lexie just had one – gymnastics.

A new school year has begun, and it is time to select activities for this school year. 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.

Lexie’s rendition of the Pokemon – Fennekin.

Lexie decided in August that gymnastics was not her passion and wanted to stop. She had been doing it for a year and a half. She loves art so I signed her up for an after-school art class that meets once a week for 12 weeks.

She also likes to sing so she will also be joining choir. This school group meets twice a week before school. She will have one performance during the holidays and a field trip to sing at another location – usually a nursing home.

Jase right now has two activities. He is still doing karate. He is currently a second degree red belt. He is also in the orchestra. Now orchestra is a class at his middle school, but I am also counting it as an extra-curricular activity as they will sometimes have after school practice, and they do have performances and competitions throughout the year.

While he currently has two activities and I would be happy with him limiting his extracurricular activities to these, I am still encouraging him to find a club at the middle school he might want to join. I think joining a club will be a great way to make friends at his new school. But if he doesn’t find one that interests him that is fine too.

As it is, I think two activists a piece are just fine for them. I like keeping them busy, but I don’t think kids need every minute of their day scheduled. They need time for homework, and of course they need down time where they can just have fun and enjoy their childhood.

My son decides to join Fifth Grade Strings and play the violin

One Monday in September, Jase bounced home and announced that he wanted to join Fifth Grade Strings. He held in his hand the pink paper announcing that a free concert by the Middle School Orchestra would be held for fifth graders on Friday. This concert would allow students to hear the four instruments offered – violin, viola, cello and base.

So Jase eagerly awaited Friday. He came home struggling to decide whether he wanted the violin or the viola. His best buddy also was interested in joining strings. The boys discussed their choices and both decided on the violin.

So I signed Jase up online. The class is taught by the middle school orchestra teacher. He comes to our elementary school on Tuesday for violins and violas and on Thursdays for cellos and bases. He does the same for a neighboring elementary but on Mondays and Wednesdays. Classes are after school and at no cost. The reason he does this is he is hoping these fifth graders will join middle school orchestra next year.

(Realizing many places break up their schools differently, here elementary school is kindergarten through the fifth grade. Middle school is grades 6 thru 8 and high school is grades 9 thru 12.)

So after signing him up, I attended parent orientation so the orchestra teacher could go over what the student’s needed and the rules of the class (you miss more than 3 and you are kicked out). The flyer didn’t say anything about bringing your child. It was after all a “parent” orientation, so I left Jase at home.

Wrong call.

Everyone else brought their kids. And you needed your student so they could be fitted with the proper size instrument. The instructor had invited four vendors to the meeting and they all had instruments for the students (or should I say parents) to rent.

Well, lucky for me, the step-mom of Jase’s best buddy was there. Since her daughter already played the violin, she knew what questions to ask the rental companies and knew which offered a good deal. It also benefited me that Jase’s friend was there as the boys are the same size and build. We used his measurements to pick Jase’s violin.

violinJase was excited when I brought home the violin. He actually was able to pull the bow across the strings without making it sound like he was killing a cat or something. Of course the first class they only learned how to care for their violin and how to hold it. But in the other two classes he has had they have learned the notes and begun so rudimentary playing.

So far he seems to be doing well with the violin and is excited to be learning how to play. They give their first concert to parents in December (unfortunately the same night as Lexie’s third grade performance). Then they will have a bigger concert at city music festival in April.

Here is to hoping that Jase continues to do well and enjoys playing. I am not sure he will continue after this school year but I love that he wanted to try something new.