As our kids get in elementary school, they discover extracurricular activities! Cub Scouts, Brownies, drama, fall spots, chess, and music or language lessons etcetera. My boys brought home different after school opportunities every day the first few weeks of school.
This newfound source of information – flyers, announcements and direct marketing to my kids created another source for parent / child discord – how many and which ones are right for each child.
Marketing was clever – I would linger over programs identifying themselves as enrichment classes, like fine arts, community involvement and science for a sustainable planet; while the boys begged for Lego Adventure programs, dodge ball and electric guitar lessons.
A practical approach to these activities is moderation. Kids need time to do their homework, socialize with friends informally, and spend time with family or just relax. Your time is important too. I remember being held hostage for an hour and a half every Monday while my boys participated in a Jurassic Park Sculpting program in Evanston.
I encourage you to sit with your child and prioritize wants and needs. Be a good observer – is homework getting done in a reasonable amount of time; are you making time for just “hanging out” with family, friends or independently? An important life skill to promote in our children is finding something meaningful/productive to do on their own.
As a postscript; while discussing which programs we should sign up for, I learned that LEGO has Certified Professionals who have turned their passion for playing with LEGOs into a profession; and there’s not much to learn from dodgeball, but some kids just think it’s fun; and that’s a good enough reason to play.
Jo Anne Loper,
Director of Parent Education
Mom, I want to learn to play the Tuba!!